MPs stress caution in freeing Bagram detainees
KABUL (PAN): Some Meshrano Jirga --- upper house --- members on Tuesday said cases of Bagram jail inmates should be investigated. Those found guilty should be punished, they said but others insisted “innocent prisoners” be released forthwith.
The house debated the issue a day after a review board investigating prisoner cases announced the release of 650 “innocent” inmates from the Bagram jail, about 40 kilometres north of Kabul.
Abdul Shakoor Dadras, a member of the board, told a news conference in Kabul on Monday they had started investigating the prisoners’ cases in April. He said 650 of the 764 prisoners had been found innocent.
Commenting on the board's decision, a US official in Kabul told Pajhwok Afghan News there was strong evidence or investigative leads supporting prosecution or further investigation.
He said 40 percent of the detainees were involved in direct attacks wounding or killing 57 Afghan citizens and security members and 30 percent participated in assaults wounding or killing 60 US or coalition soldiers.
"We strongly disagree with the release of 88 detainees, (they haven't been released yet, but we are currently disputing them from being released). All of these cases have strong evidence or investigative leads, without processing their cases through the Afghan justice system."
Participating in the debate, Mohammad Daud Hasas, a lawmaker from southern Zabul province, asked the board to exercise utmost caution in releasing Bagram detainees. “In this jail, there are Pakistanis, Arabs, Chechens and other dangerous prisoners.”
Hasas suggested security organs should once again review the cases of those released by the board.
Mohammad Yunus Takhari from northeastern Takhar province said no inmate should be freed from the Bagram jail and all those held there should be dealt with in accordance with the law.
“If prisoners, who are still loyal to the Taliban, are released, they would join their comrades in the battlefield and would threaten the (April) elections,” he feared.
But his colleague from southeastern Khost province Arifullah Pashtun said those found guilty of committing crimes should be punished, but innocent prisoners languishing in the jail should be released as soon as possible.
“There are men who have been jailed at Bagram for sporting beards or wearing turbans. They all are innocent and should be freed with immediate effect,” Pashtun demanded.
Rafiullah Haideri from eastern Kunar province, praising the board’s job as commendable, sought punishment for criminals. But he said some people had been jailed at the facility as a result of misinformation passed on to foreign troops by local translators.
A number of other lawmakers held similar views. Senate first deputy chairman Mohammad Alam Ezedyar said every decision on the fate of Bagram detainees should come in conformity of the Afghan laws.
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