German Bundestag condemns skull incident in Afghanistan

26th October 2006, Comments 0 comments

26 October 2006, Berlin/Kabul (dpa) - Germany's parliament and Afghanistan's government on Thursday condemned the reported abuse of a human skull by German troops serving with the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) in Afghanistan. "People who behave in such a manner don't belong in the armed forces," Defence Minister Franz Josef Jung said during a debate on new security guidelines adopted by the cabinet on Wednesday. Jung said the army had identified six soldiers shown in macabre photo

26 October 2006

Berlin/Kabul (dpa) - Germany's parliament and Afghanistan's government on Thursday condemned the reported abuse of a human skull by German troops serving with the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) in Afghanistan.

"People who behave in such a manner don't belong in the armed forces," Defence Minister Franz Josef Jung said during a debate on new security guidelines adopted by the cabinet on Wednesday.

Jung said the army had identified six soldiers shown in macabre photographs of the incident that appeared in Wednesday's edition of the mass-circulation Bild newspaper.

"Four of them are no longer in the armed forces, and the two others will be firmly dealt with," he said to loud applause from government and opposition deputies.

The pictures showed men dressed in German army combat fatigues playing with the skull on military vehicles. One of the photos showed a soldier exposing his penis while holding the skull in his right hand.

The incident is believed to have occurred early 2003 near the Afghan capital Kabul. The Bild report said the skull had apparently come from a mass grave but it was unclear whether it was that of an Afghan or a Russian killed during the Soviet occupation from 1979-89. 

"The government and the people of Afghanistan have been deeply saddened by the news of the desecration of a human skull by German soldiers in Afghanistan," said Afghanistan's foreign ministry in a statement. 

"The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan strongly condemns this action which goes against Islamic values and Afghan traditions." 

In its first official reaction, Afghanistan also called on German authorities to "bring the perpetrators to justice and ensure such actions are not repeated."

The soldiers involved come from a unit based in the Bavarian town of Mittenwald, military sources told Deutsche Presse-Agentur dpa.

On Wednesday, Chancellor Angela Merkel described the photographs as "shocking and disgusting." Government spokesman Thomas Steg said "they discredit the armed forces and the reputation of our country."

NATO Secretary-General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer called the incident "unacceptable," but said he did not expect it to have negative consequences for ISAF operations.

He told German Radio that ISAF soldiers, including the German contingent, were highly respected in Afghanistan and were carrying out good work. 

There were no reports of protests or unrest in Afghanistan on Thursday in reaction to the photos.

Germany has about 2,800 soldiers serving with the 30,000-strong NATO-led force in Afghanistan.

Publication of the photos coincided with the release of a new German defence strategy paper which envisages a greater international role for the country's armed forces.

Jung told parliament that Germany had no ambition to play the role of international policemen despite having 9,000 soldiers deployed in peace missions on three continents.

DPA

Subject: German news

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