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Karzai Accuses US of Violating Detainee Pact

November 19, 2012

by VOA News

Afghan President Hamid Karzai is accusing the United States of violating an agreement to transfer more than 3,000 prisoners at a controversial military prison to the Afghan government.

In September, the U.S. formally handed over control of Bagram prison north of Kabul to Afghanistan. At the time, Karzai hailed the transfer as a victory for his country's sovereignty.

But during a meeting late Sunday in Kabul, the Afghan leader said he heard reports by the attorney general and military police commander that "even prisoners who were presumed innocent by the court are still being held" and that U.S. forces continue to imprison people "against the provisions of the MoU already signed."

The president's spokesman, Aimal Faizi, told reporters on Monday that U.S. forces are holding more than 70 prisoners at Bagram "despite court orders for their release."

Karzai called the "status quo a serious breach of the Memorandum of Understanding signed between Afghanistan and the United States." In a statement issued by his office, Karzai assigned the defense minister, attorney general, and commander of Bagram prison "to take all required and urgent measures to ensure a full Afghanization of the prison affairs and a complete transfer of its authority."

There was no immediate official comment from the United States.

U.S. and Afghan officials last week began talks on a bilateral security agreement that will determine how many American military personnel will remain in Afghanistan after international combat forces leave the country by the end of 2014.

The negotiations, which are expected to take several months, are also expected to focus on the sensitive issue of whether U.S. troops can be prosecuted under Afghan law.

President Karzai has long said that any remaining American military personnel should be prosecuted in local courts. Washington has stressed that any crimes committed should be tried in the United States.

Failure to strike a similar deal on immunity for U.S. troops in Iraq was a factor in ending the military presence in that country.


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