Documentary of US 'war crimes' shocks Europe

By Clive Freeman

Berlin - American soldiers have been involved in the torture and murder of captured Taliban prisoners, and may have aided in the "disappearance" of up to 3 000 men in the region of Mazar-i-Sharif, according to Jamie Doran, an Irish documentary film-maker.

Doran's latest film, Massacre At Mazar, was shown on Wednesday in in the Reichstag, the German parliament building in Berlin, and there were immediate calls for an international commission to be set up to investigate charges made in the documentary.

Andrew McEntee, a leading international human rights lawyer, who has viewed the film footage and read full transcripts, believes there is prima facie evidence of serious war crimes having been committed by American soldiers in Afghanistan.

'The Americans did whatever they wanted' McEntee, who was in Berlin for Wednesday's special screening, said war crimes had been committed not just under international law but, also, "under the laws of the United States itself".

Much of the footage shown in Doran's 20-minute documentary was taken secretly, and although witnesses were said to be living in fear of reprisal from within Afghanistan itself they had all agreed to appear at any future international war crimes tribunal to give evidence, it was claimed.

One witness in the film claimed he had seen an American soldier break an Afghan prisoner's neck and pour acid on others. "The Americans did whatever they wanted. We had no power to stop them," he alleged.

Sometimes prisoners who were beaten up and taken outside had "disappeared", he said.

In other sequences witnesses, among them two men, claimed they had been forced to drive into the desert with hundreds of Taliban prisoners.

The living were then summarily shot while 30 to 40 American soldiers purportedly stood by, it was alleged. The prisoners had been taken there on the orders of the local American commander, according to the documentary.

Andre Brie, a PDS member of the European Parliament, concerned by reports of ill treatment of Taliban prisoners, said he would be in favour of an international commission looking into "disturbing" questions raised by the film.

At a press conference Brie said he had known of Doran's dangerous film activity in Afghanistan, and had helped to support him financially.

The PDS party faction had wanted to obtain authentic footage of the war in Afghanistan, he said.

The film was due to be screened at the European Parliament in Strasbourg later on Wednesday evening. - Sapa-DPA