[Ppnews] Lethal US practice revealed in trial

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Tue Mar 22 08:37:45 EST 2005


Lethal US practice revealed in trial

Tuesday 22 March 2005 8:01 AM GMT

A US soldier accused of beating an Afghan civilian to death in 2002 should 
not be held solely responsible because authority figures used the same 
tactics, his attorney says.

Private First Class Willie Brand of the 377th Military Police Company is 
charged with involuntary manslaughter, maiming, assault, maltreatment and 
false swearing.

The Cincinnati man is accused of killing an Afghan civilian identified only 
as Dilawar at the main US detention facility in Bagram, Afghanistan, by 
destroying his leg muscle tissue with repeated knee strikes.

On Monday, the opening day of Brand's Article 32 hearing, attorney John 
Galligan said Brand's superiors either directly knew or should have known 
about the use of the knee-strike method of beating.

Knee-strikes common

He said records and testimony would show that others in positions of 
authority also used the practice.

"Unfortunately, we have many soldiers deployed to a war zone with 
inadequate training, equipment and resources to conduct very dangerous 
missions in a new type of war," Galligan said.

The hearing, which is being held at Fort Bliss because it is considered a 
neutral location, will determine whether the case is referred for a general 
court martial. It is expected to last two to three days.

"I thought it went reasonably well, like a dental appointment," Brand told 
the El Paso Times after Monday's hearing ended.

Beaten to death

Brand is accused of beating Dilawar to death over a five-day period at 
Bagram Control Point just north of Kabul.

An autopsy showed that Dilawar's legs were so damaged by blows that 
amputation would have been necessary if he had survived.

Dilawar died from "blunt force trauma to the lower extremities complicating 
coronary artery disease", according to a US Army report dated 6 July 2004.

Galligan said the knee-strike technique is a "non-lethal mechanism utilised 
to ensure compliance with a combative detainee".

"We would argue that [the knee strikes] had been legitimately done in the 
course of restraining an individual," he said.

Assault and maltreatment

The charges against Brand include assault and maltreatment of another 
prisoner, Mullah Habib Allah.

Habib Allah also died, but Brand is not charged in connection with his death.

Another member of the Cincinnati-based 377th Company, Sergeant James 
Boland, has been charged with assault, maltreatment and dereliction of duty 
in Dilawar's death, and dereliction of duty in Habib Allah's death.

The army on Monday said in a statement that it is investigating whether 
other soldiers also were involved.

You can find this article at:

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San Francisco, CA 94110
(415) 863-9977
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