17 May 2004
HAMBURG – Military lawyers have advised German elite soldiers in Afghanistan not to take prisoners to avoid having to turn them over to US forces, Der Spiegel magazine reported.
In its latest issue, the Hamburg-based weekly cited military lawyers as saying that there were “too many open questions” about the Americans’ treatment of prisoners, a view now seen as being confirmed in the wake of the revelations of prisoner abuse in Iraq.
The lawyers said that for example it was not clear whether Afghans captured in operations would be treated by the Americans as prisoners of war or as criminals.
Germany’s special “KSK” forces operating in the Hindukush region, when making a capture, carefully check the captives’ identities before then releasing them, Der Spiegel said.
But the recommendation not to turn the prisoners over leaves open the question of what might happen if German forces, operating alongside US troops in Afghanistan, might capture top-level figures in a terrorist network.
The magazine cited the military lawyers as saying that before German forces join a war on terrorism in future, there should be prior clarification about who is responsible for prisoners of war.
Subject: German news