Polish court orders retrial over alleged Afghan war crimes | News | DW | 14.03.2012
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Polish court orders retrial over alleged Afghan war crimes

Poland's Supreme Court has ordered a retrial of four Polish soldiers who were acquitted of war crimes for an attack on an Afghan village. The case is the first such court martial involving Polish troops fighting abroad.

Four Polish soldiers face a fresh trial for war crimes after the Supreme Court in Warsaw on Wednesday overturned their acquittal for the killing of Afghan civilians, including women and children.

However, the court did uphold the acquittal of three other soldiers who were also involved in the 2007 attack on the village of Nangarkhel. Eight Afghan civilians, including women and children, died when soldiers fired mortars and machine guns at the settlement.

"The prosecutor's appeal is in part justified," Judge Wieslaw Blus said. "The court has overturned the ruling and is forwarding the case for a new review."

'Targeting Taliban fighters'

All seven soldiers have denied wrongdoing and, in June 2011, were acquitted by a military court that said there was lack of evidence that they intended to harm civilians. The soldiers claimed they had been targeting Taliban fighters after a military patrol was attacked.

The original verdict had said there was evidence that soldiers were equipped with faulty military equipment. In the latest hearing, it was found that the military court had failed to sufficiently clarify doubts. If they are found guilty, the men could be sentenced to life in prison.

Polandhas some 1,400 troops in Afghanistan and plans to withdraw them all by 2014. The case is the first court martial for war crimes involving Polish military personnel serving abroad and caused shock throughout the country when it came to light, with medical help offered to some of the victims.

rc/slk (AFP, Reuters)