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THE STANS
US soldier gets nine months in Afghan case

Karzai orders probe into NATO killing in Afghanistan
Kabul (AFP) Dec 2, 2010 - Afghan President Hamid Karzai ordered an investigation Thursday into the killing by NATO forces of a former governor in southern Afghanistan, his office said. According to Karzai's office, troops broke into the house of Haji Ibrahim, a former district governor in the southern province of Helmand, earlier this week, killing him and arresting six members of his family. Gulab Mangal, the Helmand governor, told Karzai preliminary investigations had revealed Ibrahim was innocent, the president's office said in a statement. Six members of Ibrahim's family who also appeared to be "innocent" were detained, the statement said.

Karzai had ordered Mangal to open an investigation into the killing, the statement added. Daud Ahmadi, a spokesman for the Helmand provincial administration, told AFP an investigation was already under way. "The governor has written to the NATO forces inquiring the reason behind the killing. But so far, they have not written back," Ahmadi told AFP. NATO's International Security Assistance force (ISAF) confirmed it carried out a raid but said it had killed an "insurgent."

"As the security force began to search the compound, an insurgent attempted to engage the force with a grenade and was killed," said an ISAF statement Monday, resent to AFP after a query. "During the search of the compound, the security force found several men who were suspected to be insurgents. Also found in the compound were IED components and explosive detonators," it added. ISAF did not comment on Karzai's statement. The US-led ISAF force, currently numbering around 150,000 and based in Afghanistan to defeat a Taliban-led Islamic insurgency is usually accused of killing civilians during operations against militants.
by Staff Writers
Joint Base Lewis-Mcchord, Washington (AFP) Dec 1, 2010
A US soldier was sentenced to nine months in prison Wednesday after pleading guilty to shooting at Afghan civilians.

Staff Sergeant Robert Stevens, 25, also was demoted to the rank of private but was spared discharge from the military under the sentence handed down in the first court martial linked to a rogue army unit alleged to have killed Afghans for sport.

Stevens pleaded guilty to four of the five charges against him, including shooting "in the direction of" men he knew to be civilians rather than enemy fighters.

He also admitted to wrongly having a grenade that he claims Staff Sergeant Calvin Gibbs, the alleged ringleader of the rogue soldiers, gave him near the end of last year.

As part of the plea agreement, Stevens will also now testify against other soldiers accused of more grisly crimes in Afghanistan.

A dozen soldiers face charges related to attacks on Afghan civilians earlier this year, including three murders, in which victims' bodies were alleged to have been mutilated.

All belong to the Bravo Company, 2nd Battalion, 1st Division's Stryker brigade at Forward Operating Base Ramrod.

Stevens, who is not accused of murder, described the March shooting under questioning by the judge, Lieutenant Colonel Kwasi Hawks.

Stevens said that, while on patrol, the soldiers saw Afghan men in a field. "I knew they weren't a threat," he said, adding that the men were walking around in the open, not hiding from the soldiers.

But then Gibbs told Stevens and the other soldiers to prepare to fire, saying one of the men had a rocket-propelled grenade, he said. Stevens fired, but says he intentionally missed by a wide margin.

"Sergeant Gibbs then mentioned that we needed to work on our accuracy," Stevens testified. He said he later lied to army investigators about the incident, claiming that one of the Afghans had a rocket-propelled grenade, as stated by Gibbs.

"It sounds like you made a real effort to not hit them," Hawks said.

The outcome of Stevens' court martial could have a significant impact on the cases of the other accused soldiers, said Lieutenant Colonel David Frakt, a former military prosecutor.

"If the person is convicted and hammered, that would certainly incentivize the other accused to potentially try to work out a plea bargain," said Frakt, who serves in the Air Force reserves.

But Frakt noted that it is also an advantage to other defendants that Stevens' trial is happening first. "It gives them a good preview of the government's case against them."



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Albania offers arms and ammunition to Afghan authorities
Tirana (AFP) Dec 1, 2010
Albania decided on Wednesday to offer arms and ammunition to Afghan authorities, contributing to the international community's efforts there, officials said. "Albania will offer for free some 30,000 automatic weapons as well as some 50 million pieces of ammunition to the Afghan police," the government said in a statement. Albania became a member of NATO in April 2008 and has a 306-soldie ... read more







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