Military cleared of torture charges

Supreme Court finds that the military had no reason to suspect Afghan prisoners handed over to US forces would be mistreated

The military was not responsible for the mistreatment allegedly suffered by a group of 31 Afghan prisoners 11 years ago after Army forces handed them over to US authorities, the Supreme Court ruled today.

The seven Supreme Court judges agreed with the Eastern High Court’s 2011 decision to reject the suit by a member of the group, Ghousouallah Tarin, who asked for 50,000 kroner in compensation from the Defence Ministry.

The case stems from 2002 incidentin which 31 Afghans were captured by Danish special forces. The Afghans turned out to be fighting with coalition forces, but that was not discovered until after they had been handed over to a US detention centre in Kandahar in southern Afghanistan, where they allege the Americans mistreated them. 

The Afgans, led by Tarin, contended the Danes were also responsible for their mistreatment, an argument the Supreme Court rejected.

“At the time of the handover, there was no evidence of information that suggested that the Defence Ministry or the Danish forces knew or should have known that the hand over could have led to a risk that the individual [Tarin] would be subjected to inhumane treatment,” the Supreme Court decision noted.

The Supreme Court verdict also concluded that the lack of registration of the prisoners by the Danes and the lack of supervision the Afghans experienced during the time they spent in US custody was not enough to grant compensation.

Tyge Trier, the lawyer representing Tarin, said the Supreme Court had been lenient in its judgement that the Danish authorities had adequately evaluated the risk the prisoners would be mistreated while in American captivity.

“I wanted them to be found responsible, and I wanted the authorities to prove their innocence, but instead the court decided it was Tarin who had to prove what had happened,” Trier told the press after the trial.

Trier also expressed disappointment t that the Danish authorities had not co-operated during the investigation.

Tarin and the other 30 Afghans maintain they were kicked, stomped on, stripped and forced to stand naked with hoods over their heads while in US custody.