Saturday, February 7, 2009

Nangar Khel trial opens in Warsaw

As readers may recall, this blog has had near-exclusive coverage of the Nangar Khel massacre, wherein Polish NATO soldiers are accused of shelling a village and killing several civilians in Paktika province in August, 2007. Now that the trial has begun, it seems that we will be able to continue our streak, since the trial is not open to journalists' recording devices. So far, coverage of the trial (in English) has been almost zero, even on the internet.

Here's the latest, translated from Poland's leading daily, Gazeta Wyborcza:
Nangar Khel Comes Up
Gazeta Wyborcza

WARSAW, Feb 3 - At 10 a.m. today the trial of seven soldiers accused of shelling the Afghani village of Nangar Khel is to begin before the District Military Court in Warsaw. 'It's a unique trial, not only in Poland but also in Europe or even in the world. The last such case to have found its way to court was probably in relation to US Army activities in Vietnam,' says Lt Col Rafał Korkus, spokesperson for the District Military Court.

As a result of the shelling on 16 August 2007, six people died (including four women and a child), two more died in hospital, three women were seriously wounded. The military prosecutors charged six commandoes from the 18th Stormtrooper Battalion in Bielsko-Biała with manslaughter and one with 'opening fire at an undefended civilian facility.' Nangar Khel was shelled by eight from a total of 24 fired mortar shells (one hit a building) and heavy machinegun fire. According to the military prosecutors, there was no threat and the soldiers knew that their fire would hit civilian buildings and saw people moving there...

The trial is to explain whether the Nangar Khel incident was a mistake or a crime. Since the commandoes were arrested (in November 2007, they were later released pending trial), a public debate has continued on the issue...

The order issued by Capt Olgierd C., according to his subordinates, was to 'f*** over a couple of villages.' It was issued following a Taliban ambush that US Army soldiers had fallen into and a Polish patrol hastening to their rescue hit an IED.'Capt Olgierd C., commander of Charlie combat team at Wazi-Kwa base in Afghanistan, has denied the charges. His men too say they are innocent.All seven were released pending trial. But, despite what might have been expected, the case was not returned to be reinvestigated (the Supreme Court ruled on that in December)... (link)
Related:

Lots of information and photos can be found in these various blog posts: