US general begins review of Afghanistan jails | Latest News India - Hindustan Times

US general begins review of Afghanistan jails

PTI | ByAssociated Press, Kabul, Afghanistan
May 25, 2004 08:01 PM IST

An American general has begun his review of secretive US jails in Afghanistan where at least three prisoners died and former detainees say they were abused.

An American general has begun his review of secretive U.S. jails in Afghanistan where at least three prisoners died and former detainees say they were abused, the military said Monday.

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The review was announced last week. Brig. Gen. Charles Jacoby, deputy operational commander at the military's main base at Bagram, north of Kabul, was appointed to do the work and report by mid-June. "Gen. Jacoby is now into about the third day of the top-to-bottom review of all the coalition's detainee facilities and procedures," Lt. Col. Tucker Mansager said.

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Mansager said the general had visited two jails at military bases in the country's troubled east. He declined to name them. The overall commander of the 20,000 U.S.-led forces pursuing Taliban and al-Qaida militants in Afghanistan, Lt. Gen. David Barno, ordered the review earlier this month in response to the growing scandal over prisoner abuse in Iraq and Afghanistan. Jacoby is to visit about 20 U.S. detention centers, including the main jail at Bagram and others at smaller bases around the country "to ensure internationally accepted standards of handling detainees are being met," according to the military, which insists all its prisoners are treated humanely.

The military, which currently holds about 350 prisoners in Afghanistan, recently announced two new criminal investigations into ex-inmates' allegations of abuse _ including a former Afghan police colonel's claim he was beaten and sexually abused in mid-2003, and released without charge.

But the military says investigations into the deaths of two Bagram inmates in December 2002 are dragging on. Both were ruled homicides after military autopsies prompted undisclosed changes to prison procedures.

Mansager said he couldn't confirm a New York Times report that a military intelligence unit, which oversaw interrogations at Baghdad's Abu Ghraib prison _ the focus of the Iraqi prisoner abuse scandal _ was also in charge of questioning at the Bagram detention center when the two prisoners died.

Interrogations at the center, known as the Bagram Collection Point, were supervised by Company A, 519th Military Intelligence Battalion, which moved to Iraq in early 2003, the paper said, citing information from former prisoners, military officials and documents. Mansager said members of the 519th was deployed in Afghanistan between November 2003 and March 2004. "Other than that, we don't know their assignment history," he said.

U.S.-led forces have detained hundreds of people in Afghanistan since ousting the Taliban in late 2001 for harboring Osama bin Laden and his al-Qaida network. The United States considers them "unlawful combatants" not entitled to the full protection of the Geneva Conventions, and many have been transferred to Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, and held without trial or access to lawyers for more than two years.

The CIA inspector general is investigating the death of another detainee in Afghanistan's eastern Kunar province in June 2003.

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