US Thwarts Investigation into Afghan Civilian Murders

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Common Dreams

US Thwarts Investigation into Afghan Civilian Murders

The killings have become a flashpoint of anger over U.S. atrocities and immunity from Afghan law

by
Sarah Lazare, staff writer

Afghanistan's intelligence service says it is unable to continue an investigation into the murder of at least 10 Afghan civilians due to the U.S. military's refusal to cooperate, Reuters revealed Tuesday.

Between October 2012 and February 2013, 17 men disappeared following U.S. raids and detentions in the district of Nerkh in Wardak province—just west of Kabul. Local residents found 10 of their bodies buried just several hundred meters from a base housing a U.S. Army Special Forces unit, commonly referred to as Green Berets.

According to Reuters, a September 23rd report from Afghanistan's National Directorate of Security (NDS) finds that the U.S. military refused the agency access to the three Green Berets and four Afghan translators suspected of involvement in the deaths.

"Despite many requests by NDS they have not cooperated. Without their cooperation this process cannot be completed," stated the report.

Local residents say the Green Berets had detained and 'disappeared' 10 civilians and killed 8 during their 'operations,' according to an investigative report by Matthieu Aikins of Rolling Stone. Special Forces Afghan translator Zakeria Kandahari, who was arrested by the NDS under suspicion of participating in the murders, has also implicated the U.S. unit.

After repeatedly denying the involvement of Green Berets in the killings, the U.S. military launched its own criminal investigation into the murders in July 2013. Yet, it continues to refuse cooperation in the Afghan one.

U.S. service members in Afghanistan have immunity under Afghan law according to a deal brokered during the U.S.-led occupation. The Wardak killings have become a flashpoint in local anger over U.S. atrocities and insulation from Afghan law as the issue of immunity proves a key sticking point in negotiations over a bi-lateral security agreement.

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