Germany tries soldiers for rough treatment

19th March 2007, Comments 0 comments

19 March 2007, Muenster, Germany (dpa) - Army trainers went on trial in Germany Monday for their rough treatment of recruits during an exercise intended to toughen up soldiers in case they were ever taken hostage.

19 March 2007

Muenster, Germany (dpa) - Army trainers went on trial in Germany Monday for their rough treatment of recruits during an exercise intended to toughen up soldiers in case they were ever taken hostage.

Soldiers were made to march with sand between their skin and clothing, or were hosed down with cold water while they were tied up.

Prosecutors indicted 18 training staff for mistreating up to 163 armed forces personnel in 2004 at a base in Coesfeld near the northern German city of Muenster. There was a national outcry after German news media reported on the courses.

A 34-year-old army captain in charge of the training company admitted planning the exercises, but said he had not known the details of the treatment. He said the recruits had always seemed cheerful to him and had thanked the trainers for an exciting week.

He added that he himself had benefited from such a course before he was deployed with the German army to Bosnia.

The other defendants are 17 non-commissioned officers who were under his command. The civil trial in Muenster for assault is expected to take 45 hearing days. Two of the NCOs were sacked. Two have left the army. The other 14 are banned from training duties.

In an interview, Germany's armed-force ombudsman, Reinhold Robbe, said he was convinced the Coesfeld methods were an exception and not typical of the German army. Robbe's annual report, to be released Tuesday, would say that such treatment was not usual at other bases.

'In view of the information I've been given since, I can say that the armed forces have definitely learned from this incident,' he said.

DPA

Subject: German news

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