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Last Updated: Wednesday, 24 August 2005, 13:12 GMT 14:12 UK
US soldier jailed in Afghan abuse
Afghan prisoner and US soldier
Human Rights Watch says the sentence is too lenient
A soldier from a US military intelligence unit has been sentenced to two months in prison for abusing an Afghan detainee who later died.

It is the first custodial sentence given to any US soldier convicted of abuse in Afghanistan since 2001.

A US-based human rights group has condemned the sentence as too lenient.

The US has been under intense pressure for several months following allegations of abuse by its forces in US-run detention centres.

Repeated beatings

Specialist Glendale Wells pleaded guilty at a military court of pushing a detainee known as Dilawar against a wall.

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He also admitted doing nothing to prevent other soldiers at the US base at Bagram from abusing him.

In December 2002, Dilawar died at the base - after suffering what an internal US investigation revealed were repeated beatings by American troops while chained to the ceiling by his wrists.

A US Chinook helicopter flies in Afghanistan
A leaked New York Times report in May highlighted abuses

The BBC correspondent in Kabul, Andrew North, says two other soldiers have also been convicted in connection with the case, but neither were jailed - including one who faced more serious charges.

The New York-based group Human Rights Watch said the two month prison sentence given to Specialist Wells was very disappointing.

The punishment did not match the gravity of the crimes, said John Sifton, Human Rights Watch's lead researcher on Afghanistan.

He said it was another sign of what he called the US military's consistent failure to take abuse allegations seriously.

"These accused soldiers and their superiors were involved in numerous abuses and two detainee deaths," he said. "Yet all the officers so far have escaped punishment."

In May the deaths of Dilawar and another inmate, along with other allegations of abuse, were detailed by the New York Times, citing a 2,000-page document leaked from a US army investigation.

Afghan President Hamid Karzai said he was shocked and demanded action from the US.





FROM OTHER NEWS SITES:
ABC Online Karzai criticises US soldiers' sentences for abuses - 24 hrs ago
Arab News Afghanistan Criticizes US Courts Over Prisoner Abuse Trials - 32 hrs ago
Sydney Morning HeraldAfghans slam courts over prisoner abuse - 36 hrs ago
MySanAntonioAfghanistan criticizes US military courts over prisoner abuse trials - 47 hrs ago
MSNBC Interrogator pleads guilty to Afghan abuse - 48 hrs ago
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