Seven Polish soldiers face retrial over Afghan deaths | News | DW | 07.03.2012
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Seven Polish soldiers face retrial over Afghan deaths

Seven Polish soldiers have been put on trial for a second time for alleged war crimes stemming from the deaths of eight Afghan civilians in 2007. All seven had been acquitted by a military court.

Seven Polish soldiers were set to take the stand at the supreme court in Warsaw on Wednesday to face criminal charges arising from an attack on a village in Afghanistan that left eight civilians dead.

All seven are charged with war crimes for launching a mortar and machine-gun attack on the village of Nangarkhei in the south-eastern province of Paktika on August 16, 2007 in which the eight civilians died, including women and children.

This is the second time that the soldiers, who were in Afghanistan as part of the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force, have been put on trial for the incident. They were acquitted by a military court last June after it found that there was not sufficient evidence to prove they had deliberately targeted civilians.

In its ruling, the military court also took into consideration evidence that the soldiers had been issued with faulty military equipment, which made it difficult to accurately aim their mortar attacks. The soldiers said they had opened fire on the village after coming under attack from Taliban militants.

Original decision appealed

The retrial was granted after prosecutors appealed the decision on the grounds that the military court had not considered all available evidence in the first trial. Prosecutors said they were confident they could get convictions.

The original verdict "should not stand," prosecutor Jan Zak told the court on Tuesday at the opening day of the trial.

The case is being closely observed by the Polish media, as it is the first in which the country's soldiers have been charged with war crimes during a military operation on foreign soil.

pfd/acb (dpa, AP)