Germany opens inquiry over Kurnaz 'beating'

18th October 2006, Comments 0 comments

18 October 2006, Potsdam, Germany (dpa) - German prosecutors have opened an inquiry into claims that a Muslim raised in Germany was assaulted by German soldiers in Afghanistan before he was transferred to the US detention camp at Guantanamo Bay. The prosecutors in Potsdam, west of Berlin, said Wednesday they were responding to news reports which quoted Murat Kurnaz, 24, saying he was yanked by the hair and had his head banged on the floor by two men in German military fatigues in early 2002. Two state secr

18 October 2006

Potsdam, Germany (dpa) - German prosecutors have opened an inquiry into claims that a Muslim raised in Germany was assaulted by German soldiers in Afghanistan before he was transferred to the US detention camp at Guantanamo Bay.

The prosecutors in Potsdam, west of Berlin, said Wednesday they were responding to news reports which quoted Murat Kurnaz, 24, saying he was yanked by the hair and had his head banged on the floor by two men in German military fatigues in early 2002.

Two state secretaries at the German Defence Ministry testified Wednesday to a parliamentary committee in Berlin that two German soldiers remembered encountering Kurnaz as a prisoner, but denied any physical contact with him whatever.

The Kurnaz case has been in the headlines for weeks in Germany after the man, who grew up in the German city of Bremen, was released from Guantanamo after more than four years in US custody.

Kurnaz, who holds Turkish citizenship, was arrested in Pakistan two months after the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel has criticised the Guantanamo camp.

One of the defence ministry officials, Peter Wichert, said there was no evidence that the Germans had assaulted Kurnaz. The other, Christian Schmidt, said the Germans' contact with Kurnaz was not of "the physical sort."

Kurnaz said the men questioned him in January 2002 in a US detention camp in Kandahar, Afghanistan.

A Defence Ministry spokesman, Thomas Raabe, said German soldiers had been guards at the camp at the time and one remembered someone calling out to the teenager in German, "You were on the wrong side."

Legislators have called for a parliamentary inquiry into what the government knew about his detention.

Prosecutor Wilfried Lehmann said of opening of the criminal inquiry against persons unknown: "This is nothing special."

Prosecutors regularly opened files if they read press reports of offences that might have to be prosecuted in their districts, he said. The German military command for Afghanistan is near Potsdam.

DPA

Subject: German news

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