Saturday, July 12, 2008

Nangar Khel charges laid

Seven Polish soldiers under NATO command were charged on Wednesday for their role in attacks on Afghan civilians last year in the village of Nangar Khel, Paktia. (See my "Nangar Khel: Chronicle of a NATO massacre untold", Rabble News, May 5, 2008. Also see the enhanced version of that article (with pictures) on this blog.)

The New Warsaw Express reports the latest:

Charges Presented Against Soldiers
Simon Cygielski

July 11 - Military prosecutors on Wednesday presented their case against seven Polish soldiers accused of shelling the Afghan village of Nangar Khel and killing six civilians last year...

Prosecutors revealed drastic details of the incident at a news conference on Wednesday, including descriptions of wounds suffered by the victims...

The shelling took place on Aug. 16, 2007. The soldiers claim they were under attack by the Taliban, whose mine had earlier blown up a Polish vehicle. They at first used a large-caliber machine gun, then a 60 millimetre mortar. Only the last salvo of four shells fell on the village. A test conducted during the investigation of the ammunition used in Nangar Khel showed that some of it could have been defective and could have caused the rounds to land in an unexpected place.

However, the prosecution believes the soldiers were under no threat and that the attack on the village was intentional and unjustified.

Also on Wednesday, General Sawomir Petelicki, the former leader of Poland’s elite Grom special forces unit, told reporters that an American report based on monitored Taliban communications shows the Poles had been in fact engaging military forces.

“[In the report] one of the Taliban reports that his position on the hill is being shelled from about 600 metres,” Petelicki told a news conference. “That was the first salvo by the Polish soldiers.”

The prosecution remains unswayed, saying it has seen all the available documentation about the incident and that the report Petelicki mentioned simply does not exist. In turn Petelicki insists that it does and that at least three people besides him have seen it, including the liaison officer between the US and Polish forces in Afghanistan.

“The search [for the report] is on,” he said... (link) has a somewhat different take on the controversy surrounding the alleged American report:
Karol Frankowski, the prosecutor who drafted the indictment against the Polish troops charged with the unlawful killing of Afghan civilians in the Nangar Khel killing case has been dismissed from his position for procedural errors included in the indictment, reports Dziennik daily.

Although the spokesman of the Justice Ministry has denied that the errors included in the documentation were the reason for Frankowski’s dismissal, the daily informs that according to unofficial sources, the prosecutor lost his job because material evidence had been omitted from the indictment, including an American report regarding the communication among the Taliban confirming that the Polish troops had been shelled by Taliban terrorists before they carried out the mortar assault on the village. (link)
Elsewhere, Polskie Radio reports that the soldiers were charged with genocide; however, this seems unlikely. The articles of the Polish Criminal Code originally cited by prosecutors make no mention of genocide while the jail sentences which the soldiers are said to face match those recommended in those originally cited articles. Also, the one Polskie Radio report seems to be the only mention of genocide charges.

No comments: