Canadian General Drops a Bomb: Gov't knew of Afghan detainee abuse
2009 12 10

By David Ljunggren | Reuters.com

Canada's top soldier detonated a political bombshell on Wednesday when he admitted that, contrary to previous assurances, some Canadian troops knew detainees handed over to Afghan authorities could be abused.

The unexpected announcement by General Walt Natynczyk is a major embarrassment for the military as well as the minority Conservative government, which have both long insisted there was no credible evidence that prisoners might be harmed.


General Walt Natynczyk, the chief of Canada's defense staff, listens to a question during a news conference at the Department of National Defence headquarters in Ottawa December 9, 2009. REUTERS/Chris Wattie

Legal experts say handing over detainees in the knowledge they could be abused is a war crime.

Opposition legislators immediately stepped up demands for a formal inquiry and for Defence Minister Peter MacKay to resign over the affair.

The ruling Conservatives, although still ahead of the main opposition Liberal Party, have slipped in recent polls amid intense media coverage of the abuse allegations.

MacKay has repeatedly told the House of Commons there is no evidence soldiers knew prisoners might be abused. Last month MacKay and senior officials publicly denigrated a Canadian diplomat based in Afghanistan who said he had repeatedly warned of the risk of torture in 2006 and 2007.

A contrite Natynczyk said on Wednesday he had just received information about an incident in southern Afghanistan in June 2006 that showed soldiers knew what could befall detainees.

Reading from the field notes written by a Canadian section commander after troops arrested an Afghan man, he said: "We then photographed the individual prior to handing him over to ensure that if the Afghan National Police did assault him, as has happened in the past, that we would have a visual record of his condition."

Natynczyk said he would launch a full inquiry to discover why the additional information had only come to light now.

"This does beg a number of questions," he admitted.

Canada has 2,800 troops in Afghanistan on a combat mission that is due to end in 2011. So far 133 soldiers have died and recent polls show support for the mission is slipping.

The military has already revealed that the detainee in question was abused by the Afghan National Police (ANP). Canadian troops later rescued him.

Natynczyk, and government ministers, initially said the man was arrested by Afghan troops taking part in a joint operation and was never in Canadian custody.

"I want to correct my statement ... the individual who was beaten by Afghan police was in fact in Canadian custody and then the ANP took control of him," said Natynczyk.

Prime Minister Stephen Harper still had full confidence in both MacKay and Natynczyk, a spokesman said.

MacKay, Foreign Minister Lawrence Cannon and former Defence Minister Gordon O'Connor are due to testify to a House of Commons committee on Afghanistan later on Wednesday.


Peter MacKay, right, and Gordon O'Connor chat prior to a Dec. 9 parliamentary committee probe on Canada's military mission in Afghanistan. "Not once have we ever turned a blind eye" to allegations of torture, MacKay told the committee.
PAWEL DWULIT/THE CANADIAN PRESS

The Liberals said Natynczyk's revelation only underscored their demands for a formal public inquiry into the case.

"A judge with all the necessary power could get to the truth ... I'm fed up with all these stories," said Liberal leader Michael Ignatieff, accusing the government of continually changing its tale on the abuse affair.

Article from: Reuters.com



Related Articles
Will he resign? Peter MacKay's 'very bad day' gets worse
Natynczyk makes major reversal on detainee story: They knew.
MacKay dismisses Afghan torture allegations
Afghan torture cover-up gets a hand from Peter MacKay
Calls for MacKay's resignation over Afghan prisoner furor
Canada ’s Guantanamo
Canada in Afghanistan: Torture and Coverup
Canada rules out possible Afghan torture probe
Canada: In Service To The Pentagon And NATO At Home And Abroad


Latest News from our Front Page

Magaluf bar where British girl was filmed performing sex acts on 24 men is shut down after police investigation into video
2014 07 26
Is this what the youth in Britain and Europe is spending their their energy, money, efforts and innocence on? The young girl, pictured, was lured into performing multiple sex acts after organisers offered a free drink although she thought a holiday was on offer* Council officials launched an official investigation after the video went viral Playhouse bar in Magaluf and entertainment ...
Prejudice is a Form of Common Sense - Hard-Wired Into the Human Brain, Says ASU Study
2014 07 26
Contrary to what most people believe, the tendency to be prejudiced is a form of common sense, hard-wired into the human brain through evolution as an adaptive response to protect our prehistoric ancestors from danger. So suggests a new study published by Arizona State University researchers in the May issue of the "Journal of Personality and Social Psychology," which contends that, ...
The State is a Bully
2014 07 24
In the history of Western philosophy and social theory, no really silly idea has been more successful than the theory of the social contract. It is in fact not a theory of the social contract. It is a theory of the political contract. It is the idea, promoted by Thomas Hobbes, John Locke, and Jean-Jacques Rousseau, that, at some point in ...
NATO Exercise in Ukraine Coincided with MH-17 Shoot-down
2014 07 24
Rapid Trident was omitted from the flurry of coverage on the shoot-down MH-17. From the U.S. Army in Europe website: Rapid Trident supports interoperability among Ukraine, the United States, NATO and Partnership for Peace member nations. The exercise helps prepare participants to operate successfully in a joint, multinational, integrated environment with host-nation support from civil and governmental agencies. ...
Warning of ’imminent’ terror attack in Norway
2014 07 24
Norwegians were warned Thursday of the concrete possibility of a terror attack occurring in that country at the hands of people with connections to an extremist group in Syria. A press conference was called in Oslo, Norway on Thursday where an announcement was made of a "possible concrete threat" to national security in that country from terrorists related to an extremist ...
More News »