Detainee abuse: US soldiers face court martial

Published on Jan 27, 2006 06:31 PM IST

The US military in Afghanistan began a court martial of a US soldier accused of striking two detainees.

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None | ByPress Trust of India, Kabul

The US military in Afghanistan began a court martial on Friday of a US soldier accused of striking two detainees, with a second soldier to face similar charges next week.

Army Specialist James Hayes was charged with "conspiracy to maltreat, dereliction of duty, maltreatment of detainees and assault consummated by battery," the US-led coalition said in a statement.

Army Sergeant Kevin Myricks would go before the court martial on Monday, it said. The trials were being held at the main US base in Afghanistan at the town of Bagram, 60 km north of Kabul.

A third soldier has already been punished for knowing about the incident in July last year in southern Uruzgan province and not immediately reporting it to authorities.

The coalition announced in October that the two soldiers were alleged to have punched the detainees in the chest, shoulders and stomach.

The US military has been stationed in Afghanistan since helping to topple the hardline Taliban government in late 2001.

It leads a force of nearly 20,000 troops hunting insurgents, including from the Taliban and their Al-Qaeda allies.

The force has been under fire from human rights groups for mistreating prisoners arrested during the operation.

New York-based Human Rights Watch has said at least six detainees in US custody in Afghanistan have been killed since 2002 with US Department of Defence documents showing that five of the deaths were homicides.

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