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Afghan prisoners beaten to death at US military interrogation base - Guardian, UK

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  • Zafar Khan
    Afghan prisoners beaten to death at US military interrogation base Blunt force injuries cited in murder ruling Duncan Campbell in Los Angeles Friday March 7,
    Message 1 of 1 , Mar 7, 2003
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      Afghan prisoners beaten to death at US military
      interrogation base

      'Blunt force injuries' cited in murder ruling

      Duncan Campbell in Los Angeles
      Friday March 7, 2003
      The Guardian


      Two prisoners who died while being held for
      interrogation at the US military base in Afghanistan
      had apparently been beaten, according to a military
      pathologist's report. A criminal investigation is now
      under way into the deaths which have both been
      classified as homicides.
      The deaths have led to calls for an inquiry into what
      interrogation techniques are being used at the base
      where it is believed the al-Qaida leader, Khalid
      Sheikh Mohammed, is now also being held. Former
      prisoners at the base claim that detainees are chained
      to the ceiling, shackled so tightly that the blood
      flow stops, kept naked and hooded and kicked to keep
      them awake for days on end.

      The two men, both Afghans, died last December at the
      US forces base in Bagram, north of Kabul, where
      prisoners have been held for questioning. The
      autopsies found they had suffered "blunt force
      injuries" and classified both deaths as homicides.

      A spokesman for the Pentagon said yesterday it was not
      possible to discuss the details of the case because of
      the proceeding investigation. If the investigation
      finds that the prisoners had been unlawfully killed
      during interrogation, it could lead to both civil and
      military prosecutions. He added that it was not clear
      whether only US personnel had had access to the men.

      One of the dead prisoners, known only as Dilawar, died
      as a result of "blunt force injuries to lower
      extremities complicating coronary artery disease",
      according to the death certificate signed by Major
      Elizabeth Rouse, a pathologist with the
      Washington-based Armed Forces Institute of Pathology,
      which operates under the auspices of the defence
      department. The dead man was aged 22 and was a farmer
      and part-time taxi-driver. He was said to have had an
      advanced heart condition and blocked arteries.

      Chris Kelly, a spokesman for the institute, said
      yesterday that their pathologists were involved in all
      cases on military bases where there were unusual or
      suspicious deaths. He was not aware of any other
      homicides of prisoners held since September 11. He
      said that the definition of homicide was "death
      resulting from the intentional or grossly reckless
      behaviour of another person or persons" but could also
      encompass "self-defence or justifiable killings".

      The death certificates for the men have four boxes on
      them giving choices of "natural, accident, suicide,
      homicide". The Pentagon said yesterday that the choice
      of "homicide" did not necessarily mean that the dead
      person had been unlawfully killed. There was no box
      which would indicate that a pathologist was uncertain
      how a person had died.

      It is believed that Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, described
      as the number three in al-Qaida, is being interrogated
      at Bagram. He is said to have started providing
      information about the possible whereabouts of Osama
      bin Laden whom he is said to have met in Pakistan last
      month. Most al-Qaida suspects are being held outside
      the US which means that they are not entitled to
      access to the US judicial system.

      Two former prisoners at the base, Abdul Jabar and
      Hakkim Shah, told the New York Times this week that
      they recalled seeing Dilawar at Bagram. They said that
      they had been kept naked, hooded and shackled and were
      deprived of sleep for days on end. Mr Shah said that
      American guards kicked him to stop him falling asleep
      and that on one occasion he had been kicked by a woman
      interrogator, while her male colleague held him in a
      kneeling position.

      The commander of the coalition forces in Afghanistan,
      General Daniel McNeill, said that prisoners were made
      to stand for long periods but he denied that they were
      chained to the ceiling. "Our interrogation techniques
      are adapted," he said.

      "They are in accordance with what is generally
      accepted as interrogation techniques, and if
      incidental to the due course of this investigation, we
      find things that need to be changed, we will certainly
      change them."

      In January, in his state of the union address,
      President George Bush announced that "3,000 suspected
      terrorists have been arrested in many countries" and
      "many others have met a different fate" and "are no
      longer a problem to the United States".

      The other death being investigated is that of Mullah
      Habibullah, the brother of a former Taliban commander.
      His death certificate indicates that he died of a
      pulmonary embolism, or a blood clot in the lung.

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