US Army Apologizes for Afghan Trophy Photos

Mar 21, 2011 7:51am

ABC News' Luis Martinez reports: 

The US Army is apologizing for photographs published in the German magazine Der Spiegel this weekend that show American soldiers posing beside the corpse of an Afghan civilian they are accused of having killed for sport.

An Army statement responding to the photos publication says, "Today Der Spiegel published photographs depicting actions repugnant to us as human beings and contrary to the standards and values of the United States Army. We apologize for the distress these photos cause.”

The photographs are part of the evidence seized in the case against five US Army soldiers who are accused of murder and conspiracy for the deaths of several Afghan civilians.   The soldiers from the 5th Brigade, 2n Infantry Division were deployed to southern Afghanistan last year at the time they are alleged to have participated in the killings.  They are facing court martial at their home base of Fort Lewis, Washington.

“The actions portrayed in these photographs remain under investigation and are now the subject of ongoing U.S. court-martial proceedings” said the Army statement.

Several photos show the soldiers lifting a corpse by the hair.

The Army statement says the photos are “in stark contrast to the discipline, professionalism and respect that have characterized our Soldiers' performance during nearly 10 years of sustained operations.”

Because the case is being prosecuted the Army limited its comments but stressed that it is “is committed to adherence to the Law of War and the humane and respectful treatment of combatants, noncombatants, and the dead.”

“When allegations of wrongdoing by Soldiers surface, to include the inappropriate treatment of the dead, they are fully investigated. Soldiers who commit offenses will be held accountable as appropriate."

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