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US military asked to free Afghan prisoners

US military asked to free Afghan prisoners

Nov 19, 2012 - 19:51

KABUL (PAN): The Karzai administration on Monday asked the US military to immediately release the Afghan prisoners being held at the Bagram detention facility in violation of court verdicts.

Seventy Afghans, whose release has been ordered by courts, continue to languish in the main prison in central Parwan province, Karzai’s chief spokesman Aimal Faizi told a news conference in Kabul.

He said there were two categories of Bagram prisoners.  Some Afghans are being held without any documentary evidence against them, but the US views them as a threat and wants to detain them for an indefinite period of time.

Faizi said the second category had 70 Afghan citizens who had been absolved of all charges by courts. Their continued detention was violative of Afghanistan’s laws, he added.

“The Afghans in the second category must be released; their continued imprisonment is a breach of the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the US and a violation of Afghanistan’s sovereignty,” he insisted.  

Last year, Kabul and Washington signed the MoU on transferring the Bagram prison and inmates to Afghan control. Under the deal, the detention facility transitioned to the Afghan government on September 10.

But the defence ministry says the 600 Afghan nationals currently imprisoned in Bagram should have been handed over to the government.

Faizi recalled President Karzai, in response to a request from his US counterpart, had set a two-month timeline for the complete transition of the prison. With the expiry of the deadline on Sunday, he said, the Afghan government clung to its stance on the issue.

Late on Sunday, Karzai directed the relevant departments to accelerate measures for taking complete control from the US military of the prison.

Chairing a meeting of judicial and law-enforcement officials, he assigned the minister of defence, the attorney general and the Bagram prison commander to take all required measures to ensure full Afghanisation of prison affairs.

In response to the allegations, the NATO-led force said: "The United States fully respects the sovereignty of Afghanistan, and we are committed to fulfilling the mutual obligations incurred under the MoU on detentions.”

Signed on March 9, 2012, the MoU contained reciprocal commitments to provide for the security of Afghan citizens, the ANSF and Coalition forces by keeping captured enemy combatants from returning to the battlefield, a statement from ISAF said.  

“The United States is working with Afghanistan to discuss the way ahead and we are confident we will succeed," it added.