Struck condemns abuse of German conscripts

23rd November 2004, Comments 0 comments

23 November 2004, BERLIN - Defence Minister Peter Struck has promised to bring to justice all those responsible for a series of sadistic mock hostage-takings inside a German army training base. "It is absolutely plain that the trainers responsible seriously overstepped their role. This cannot be tolerated and we have taken steps against it," he said. "All those responsible will be brought to account." Struck is to be questioned this Wednesday by parliament's defence committee about the scandal. The inquiry

23 November 2004

BERLIN - Defence Minister Peter Struck has promised to bring to justice all those responsible for a series of sadistic mock hostage-takings inside a German army training base.

"It is absolutely plain that the trainers responsible seriously overstepped their role. This cannot be tolerated and we have taken steps against it," he said. "All those responsible will be brought to account."

Struck is to be questioned this Wednesday by parliament's defence committee about the scandal.

The inquiry into the abuse of conscripts, including electroshocks of bound men, now involves 20 more non-commissioned officers and a major, an increase of three in the number of suspects, a prosecutor said in the northern town of Muenster.

Wolfgang Schweer, senior prosecutor, said the training method, in which the trainers pretended to be hostage-takers and bound, hooded, hit and drenched conscripts with cold water, was "way over the limit" and "intolerable."

But he criticized German media headlines, saying, "I consider use of the term 'torture' for this to be an utter exaggeration."

The widened inquiry now targets 20 NCOs and a captain at the army base in the small northern town of Coesfeld. The army says it made the case public on 11 November but it only attracted wider attention with a report in Monday's issue of the news magazine Der Spiegel.

An estimated 80 conscripts were involved in the four exercises between June and September this year.

Prosecutors say they have established that one conscript was given electric shocks in soft tissue with a loud-speaker cable, but none of the men had suffered permanent physical injury. The conscripts were difficult to interview as they had since scattered all over Germany.

A spokesman said Struck would also answer questions on Wednesday about a failure by German Army troops in Kosovo to protect minority Serbs and UN police in riots in March this year.

DPA

Subject: German news

0 Comments To This Article