German Soldiers Accused of Abusing Terror Suspect | Germany| News and in-depth reporting from Berlin and beyond | DW | 08.01.2007
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German Soldiers Accused of Abusing Terror Suspect

German state prosecutors on Monday said they are investigating two special forces soldiers accused of abusing a German-born Turkish man while he was held in Afghanistan in 2002.

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Murat Kurnaz has accused two German soldiers of abusing him

Murat Kurnaz, a German resident with Turkish citizenship, claimed that a member of Germany's KSK elite military unit grabbed his hair and hit his head against the floor in a US prison camp in Kandahar, Afghanistan, in January 2002 while a second KSK member watched.

Nicht identifizierte Soldaten des Kommando Spezialkraefte (KSK) der Bundeswehr bei einer Uebung in der Graf-Zeppelin-Kaserne

Germany's KSK elite military unit is under focus in the Afghanistan abuse scandal

The state prosecution in the city of Tübingen said Kurnaz was shown photographs of 48 men dressed in KSK uniforms and had identified a soldier who was stationed in Kandahar at the time of the alleged abuse. Only 14 of those pictured were actually KSK stationed in Kandahar.

Prosecutors said they were investigating the soldier on charges of inflicting bodily harm as well as a fellow KSK member who was on duty with him.

"Both suspects are accused of grievous bodily harm while on duty," the prosecutors said in a statement, adding that the investigations were continuing.

Kurnaz alleges abuse in Afghanistan, Guantanamo

Kurnaz, born in Germany in 1982, was in the process of becoming a German citizen when he was arrested in Pakistan in late 2001 on suspicion of supporting Afghanistan's former Taliban rulers. He was handed over to US authorities, who took him to Afghanistan and then to Guantanamo Bay in Cuba where he was held for four years until his release in August 2006.

US investigators claimed that Kurnaz, who hails from the northern German city of Bremen, was an "enemy combatant" with links to Al-Qaeda.

Kurnaz was released in August 2006 because of a lack of proof that he belonged to a terrorist organization.

Since his return to Germany, Kurnaz has alleged that he was abused by German soldiers during his detainment in Afghanistan. He has also said he suffered abuse in Guantanamo Bay including psychological torture and undernourishment.

In November, Kurnaz described his ordeal at the hands of German soldiers during a meeting with members of the European Parliament.

"They asked me if I knew who they were and then they said, 'We are the KSK,'" he told European MPs, adding that the men had German flags on their uniforms and spoke German with him.

Murat Kurnaz Bremer Taliban aus Guantanamo in die Türkei abgeschoben

An earlier photo of Murat Kurnaz dating back to before his ordeal in Afghanistan

"I thought they would have some questions and that they could help me, but they told me I had chosen the wrong side," Kurnaz said.

Kurnaz's lawyer has said the US authorities never issued an arrest warrant for Kurnaz and no legal proceedings were ever started against him.

Embarrassing case for Germany

The case is an embarrassment for Germany, which also faces allegations that the previous government secretly aided a US program to kidnap and fly terrorists to third countries for interrogation.

The German defense ministry has repeatedly denied Kurnaz's allegations that he was abused by German soldiers in Kandahar.

The Kurnaz case is also being investigated by a parliamentary committee, which is currently studying whether German security agencies breached any German rules while assisting post-2001, US anti-terrorism operations.

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