[Ppnews] Afghan jail term for US torturers cut

PPnews at freedomarchives.org PPnews at freedomarchives.org
Thu Mar 31 11:23:07 EST 2005

Afghan jail term for US convicts cut

Thursday 31 March 2005 8:20 AM GMT

Three Americans jailed for torturing Afghans have won shorter sentences 
from an appeal court.

Jonathan Idema, Brent Bennett and Edward Caraballo were jailed last 
September after a chaotic trial that embarrassed US and Nato forces and 
sowed confusion about clandestine US operations in Afghanistan.

The three Americans were arrested in July when Afghan security forces 
raided a house in downtown Kabul and discovered eight Afghan men who said 
they had been abused. They were convicted two months later in a trial 
marred by faulty translation and seemingly improvised procedures.

Four Afghans were also convicted as accomplices. At a closed-door session 
on Tuesday, the appeals court upheld their convictions for torture and 
operating a private jail, one of four judges hearing the case Abdul Latif 
said on Thursday. But it quashed the charge that they entered the country 

The court cut the 10-year terms handed to Idema, the alleged ringleader, 
and to right-hand man Bennett to five and three years, respectively, Latif 
said. Caraballo, a New York journalist, will serve two years instead of eight.

Latif said the trio had appealed to the Supreme Court, their last recourse.


Michael Macey, a spokesman for the US embassy confirmed the ruling, but 
provided no further details.

Idema, a 48-year-old former soldier from Fayetteville, North Carolina, 
insists he and his accomplices were tracking down "terror suspects" 
including al-Qaida leader Usama bin Ladin in close cooperation with US and 
Afghan security forces.

The US military acknowledges accepting a prisoner from Idema, but insists 
it realised shortly afterwards that Idema was an impostor.

Nato peacekeepers also helped the trio on three raids, later saying they 
were duped.

The three are being held at Kabul's Pul-e Charkhi prison, a facility 
notorious in Afghanistan for ghastly conditions and summary executions.

Officials have made the Americans' stay more comfortable, lodging them in a 
heated, carpeted room with satellite television and their own bathroom.

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