Soldiers punished for abusing civilians

2013-06-04 22:45
Britain's Prime Minister David Cameron speaks with British soldiers during a visit to Forward Operating Base Price in Helmand Province, Afghanistan in December 2012. (File/ AFP)

Britain's Prime Minister David Cameron speaks with British soldiers during a visit to Forward Operating Base Price in Helmand Province, Afghanistan in December 2012. (File/ AFP)

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London - One British soldier was fined and another was stripped of his officer rank on Tuesday after admitting abusing civilians, including children, in Afghanistan.

A 22-year-old serviceman was fined €1 170 for indecent conduct towards a child, while a 23-year-old officer admitted racially abusing an Afghan man.

Their patrol commander was cleared of failing to deal with the offences.

Both men, neither of whom can be named for legal reasons, pleaded guilty at a court-martial at a British base in Sennelager, northwestern Germany.

The private, referred to as Soldier X to avoid reprisals against him and his family, admitted pulling the hand of an Afghan child towards his crotch while saying "Touch my special place."

Video footage of the incident was shown to the court.

Judge Advocate Alan Large said although the behaviour was completely unacceptable, he was persuaded that there was no sexual motive behind Soldier X's action when he held the child aged around five on his knee and told him to touch his crotch in December 2011.

"The child did not touch your private parts and we have seen that the child in question was not aware of what you did -- fortunately neither were the adults in the local population," he said.

The soldier also pleaded guilty to verbally insulting an Afghan boy, but he was cleared of allegations of forcing an Afghan girl to touch him on a separate occasion.

Soldier X has now left the army and is working in the building trade in Germany.

The officer, Soldier Y, who was serving as a lance bombardier at the time of the offence, admitted posing in a photograph with an Afghan man who was carrying a racist sign which read "Silly Paki", a derogatory term for Pakistanis or other South Asians.

His defence insisted he was not racist but accepted that he "over-stepped the line".

The judge advocate said that his behaviour was "highly offensive and particularly stupid".

The 23-year-old was reduced to the ranks.

The men's patrol commander, Soldier Z, was cleared of failing in his duty to deal with the offences.

The soldiers were serving in Lashkar Gah, southern Afghanistan.

Read more on:    afghanistan  |  abuse

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