Kabul, Afghanistan – The US military did not co-operate with the Afghan team dispatched to investigate the massacre of 16 civilians by a rogue American army sergeant in Kandahar province, the Afghan president has said.
The accusations came as Hamid Karzai met in his palace on Friday with distraught families of victims of last week’s incident as well as tribal elders.
“The Afghan government didn’t receive co-operation from the USA regarding the surrender of the US soldiers to the Afghan government,” Karzai said.
Lieutenant General Sher Mohammed Karimi, chief of the Afghan army who led the investigation into the massacre, told the gathering that his delegation did not receive the full co-operation they expected.
He said that despite repeated requests from high-level Afghan officials, including the minister of defence, to meet with the accused soldier, they were not granted access by US generals.
Karimi said he wanted to ask the soldier whether he acted alone, or was part of a team, as has repeatedly been claimed by tribal elders.
The soldier was flown to Kuwait on Wednesday, and is expected to arrive in a military prison in the US as early as Friday, according to reports.
John Henry Browne, the soldier’s attorney, told US media the accused would be held at a maximum security detention facility at a US military base in Kansas.
During the nearly three-hour meeting at the palace, Karzai’s anger was apparent as he listened to victims recount their stories, and in his answers to question about his inaction.
Two of the family members broke down in tears in front of the president.
“They killed so many of our loved ones, and do you have an answer why?” one elder asked Karzai.
The president said he did not.
“I don’t want any compensation. I don’t want money, I don’t want a trip to Hajj [pilgrimage], I don’t want a house. I want nothing but the punishment of the Americans. This is my demand, my demand, my demand and my demand,” another elder said.
The leaders insisted the soldier met no resistance because s villagers are used to frequent night raids, as reported earlier by Al Jazeera.
“They bring our own Afghan soldiers to secure them as they break down our doors like animals. If you resist, they will shoot you. And if you don’t resist, they will put a hood over your head and take you to Bagram,” another elder said.
Karzai once again reiterated that he would hold the US accountable and make sure the soldier is brought to justice.
“This has been going on for too long. This is by all means the end of the rope here,” Karzai told reporters at the end of the meeting.
“This form of activity, this behavior, cannot be tolerated. It’s past, past, past the time,” Karzai added.
He said he will relay the leaders’ concern that more than one soldier was involved in the massacre, and he will make sure the allegation is investigated.
Karzai met the elders a day after he demanded foreign forces pull back from Afghan villages. He also called for the full transfer of security responsibility to Afghan forces be completed one year ahead of the announced schedule in 2013.
Karzai said US President Barack Obama called him after the announcement.
“Yesterday, I said clearly that the Americans should leave our villages,” Karzai said. “This morning, Obama called regarding this issue. He asked, ‘Did you announce this?’ I said, ‘Yes, I announced it’.”
Karzai added: “I insist on this issue. The fight is not in the villages, not in the houses of Afghanistan.”
The two presidents agreed to discuss accelerating the security transfer during the NATO summit on Afghanistan in Chicago in May.