US probes new Afghan abuse claims

The US military is looking into a new allegation of prisoner abuse in Afghanistan, a spokesman said on Saturday.

    At least one person has been arrested for prisoner abuse

    Major Jon Siepmann declined to give details of the

    allegation but told reporters the investigation was being

    carried out by the Naval Criminal Investigation Service, which

    has responsibility for the US Marines, as well as the navy.

     

    About 2000 US Marines are on combat duty in Afghanistan.

     

    "Because it is currently under investigation, we cannot

    provide any specific details regarding the allegation,"

    Siepmann said.

     

    "The coalition treats all such allegations seriously and

    will take appropriate action based on the outcome of the

    investigation," he said.

     

    The US military says it has investigated five deaths of

    prisoners in Afghanistan since August 2002.

     

    Last month a CIA contractor was arrested on charges of

    beating a detainee who died at a base in Afghanistan in 2003,

    the first charge in connection with prisoner abuse in the

    country.

     

    Sweeping review

     

    After news broke concerning treatment of prisoners in Iraq,

    the US military announced a sweeping review of its prison

    system in Afghanistan. A report is expected in July

    .

     

    It said last month it had begun implementing changes in

    treatment of detainees, even before completion of the

    investigation.

     

    The review was launched after complaints of abuse by former

    detainees, including a former policeman who said he was beaten

    and sexually abused during 40 or so days in US detention.

     

    The US-based rights group Human Rights Watch has called

    abuse of detainees in Afghanistan "systemic", and criticised

    the US decision not to grant detainees

    prisoner-of-war status that would give them rights under the

    Geneva Conventions.

    SOURCE: Reuters


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