Wednesday, 1 June 2011

Polish Troops Acquitted In Civilian Afghan Deaths

WARSAW, Poland (AP) -- A military court on Wednesday acquitted seven Polish soldiers in the killing of Afghan civilians in a 2007 attack in which they fired mortars and machine guns on a village in Afghanistan, killing civilians

Prosecutors had charged them with war crimes, in the first such case in Poland, but a five-judge panel ruled that there was not enough evidence to support those charges.

The defendants had argued that the mortar and machine-gun attack that killed the civilians in the Afghan village of Nangarkhel on Aug. 16, 2007, was an accident. They said they had been targeting Taliban extremists and that in the confusion of war they killed civilians by accident.

The defense made the case that in Afghanistan it can sometimes be hard for soldiers to distinguish civilians and extremists.

Poland has about 1,600 troops in NATO's mission in Afghanistan.

Prosecutors had sought prison sentences ranging from five to 12 years for the soldiers.