Transfer of accused soldier fuels Afghan anger

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Transfer of accused soldier fuels Afghan anger

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Fury in Afghanistan over the killings of civilians by a US soldier has been fuelled by a decision to move him to a military detention centre in Kuwait. Afghan politicians, reflecting the mood among the population, have demanded the staff sergeant be tried in their country. A senior US commander has defended the transfer, saying it would ensure a fair investigation and trial.

But many Afghans see this as a further injustice. In Kabul one man taking part in a protest said: “The American must be tried in our country. We have a judicial system in this country and this case must be taken seriously. The punishment should be given to him in public, so that it will serve as lesson to other Americans and foreigners.”

US Defence Secretary Leon Panetta got a sense of that anger as he arrived for an unannounced visit. In an alarming security breach a man drove a burning truck across the tarmac as his plane landed.

During a later meeting with President Hamid Karzai Panetta is understood to have reniforced Washington’s regret over the killings, and the message that they would not, however, lead to an early withdrawal of US troops.