NATO suspends detainee transfers on abuse charges

NATO said Tuesday that it has suspended transfers of Afghan detainees to a number of Afghan facilities because of allegations of torture.
The international military coalition has pushed in recent years to give the Afghan government more responsibility for oversight of Afghans taken into custody because of insurgent activity or suspicions of involvement in attacks, partly because of criticism that those held at U.S. detention centers in Afghanistan were mistreated and were not given any way to legally contest their detention.
But a pending U.N. report alleges that prisoners at the Afghan detention facilities have been beaten and, in some cases, given electric shocks, the British Broadcasting Corp. reported. The report goes on to give details of private jails run by some Afghan police, the BBC said.
As a result, NATO has suspended detainee transfers to a number of questionable facilities until it can verify if the allegations are true, a NATO official told The Associated Press. The official spoke anonymously because the report had not been officially released.
The report names sites in seven provinces across the country, according to the BBC.
A spokesman for the United Nations mission in Afghanistan said the U.N. had already presented the core of its findings to Afghan authorities.
Spokesman Dan McNorton said the findings did not suggest an institutional or government policy of mistreatment.
Afghan officials could not immediately be reached for comment.
Also Tuesday, officials and family members reported that an American civilian working with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers had been killed the day before on the outskirts of Kabul.
A Western official in Kabul who had been briefed on the incident said that the man had been kidnapped from a powerplant where he was working in the Pulicharki area and his body was later found in a cave in nearby hills. He had been strangled with a belt, the official said, speaking anonymously to discuss matters of intelligence.
The man was identified as James W. "Will" Coker by his daughter, Carrie Hughes, who military officials told of his death on Monday evening. He was 59 years old.
About 60 miles (100 kilometers) to the north of the capital, meanwhile, Afghan police retrieved the bodies of two Germans found Monday on a remote mountain after they disappeared while hiking in Parwan province nearly three weeks ago.
While the area of eastern Afghanistan in and around the capital is relatively safe, the city of Kabul is a target for Taliban attacks and criminal kidnappings are common throughout the region.
In Parwan, police handed the Germans' bodies over to U.S. soldiers. A soldier at the site, Staff Sgt. Ashley Waruch, said that the bodies would be flown back to their families.
Their bodies were badly decomposed. Initial reports indicated they had been shot but Salamg district police chief Quddus Khan said on closer inspection the Germans might have died from blunt trauma. It was unclear when they died.
A spokesman for the Afghan agriculture ministry said the two worked for a German development and assistance organization, GIZ. Majeed Qarar, the spokesman, said they were advisers to the agriculture ministry and that they regularly went hiking in the mountains in Parwan.
The region where the Germans disappeared is not a Taliban area. The two traveled to the south end of the Salang Pass, north of Kabul, around 8 a.m. and told their driver they were going into the mountains. They promised to return at 4 p.m. The driver waited until 6 p.m. before contacting local authorities.
Further east in Nangarhar province meanwhile, a district government head and three of his bodyguards were killed in a roadside bomb blast, said Ahmadzia Abdulzai, a spokesman for the government of Nangarhar province.
The official, Asel Ahmad Khogyani, was driving in Sherzad district on Tuesday afternoon when a remotely detonated bomb went off, killing everyone in the vehicle, Abdulzai said.
Associated Press writers Patrick Quinn and Amir Shah in Kabul and Bruce Smith in South Carolina, contributed to this report.

Updated : 2021-01-28 21:09 GMT+08:00