British soldier jailed for bayoneting Afghan boy

3rd December 2011, Comments 0 comments

A British soldier has been jailed for 18 months for bayoneting a 10-year-old boy in Afghanistan, the Ministry of Defence said Saturday.

Grenadier Guardsman Daniel Crook stabbed Ghulam Nabi in March last year while on a patrol in the Nad-e Ali district of the restive southern Helmand province, where Britain's 9,500 troops in Afghanistan are based.

At his court-martial in June this year, Crook was jailed and dismissed from the British Army. He will serve his sentence in a military prison.

The guardsman had drunk a "considerable quantity of vodka" the night before the incident in March last year, so much so he had to be treated by medics, his court-martial heard.

The following day, when his unit went on patrol, Crook followed, arming himself with two grenades and a bayonet as his rifle had been confiscated as a safety measure.

He came across two Afghans on bicycles, one of whom was Nabi, who had been sent to fetch a bottle of yoghurt.

Prosecutors said the boy pestered Crook for chocolate. The guardsman then "took hold of the boy's shoulder and stabbed him in the region of his kidneys with his bayonet", they said.

When Crook caught up with the patrol, he admitted stabbing the boy. When questioned by military police, he could not explain his actions.

His judge said the drinking had triggered the incident.

A Ministry of Defence spokesman said that protecting Afghan civilians was a top priority for the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force in the country.

"All British troops undergo comprehensive training on the strict rules of engagement that UK forces and ISAF operate under. Any allegations of infringements of these rules of engagement are investigated thoroughly," he said.

"Those who are found to fall short of the army's high standards or who are found to have committed an offence are dealt with administratively -- up to and including discharge -- or through the discipline process, as appropriate."

The boy's father Haji Shah Zada told The Guardian newspaper that he had received $800 (600 euros) in compensation but no apology.

The 72-year-old shopkeeper and farmer said his son is still suffering and has not yet returned to school as he struggles with the distance.

He said British troops were "in Afghanistan to build the country and remove insurgents, not to stab a child".

Britain's military police have investigated 99 incidents in which British troops have been accused of killing or wounding Afghan civilians between January 2005 and March 2011, according to The Guardian.

© 2011 AFP

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