Tags: Cuban | Prison | Awaits | Afghan | Prisoners

Cuban Prison Awaits Afghan Prisoners

Friday, 11 January 2002 12:00 AM

A transport plane, which left Kandahar on Thursday, was expected to arrive at about 8:30 a.m. EST on Friday, the British Broadcast Corp. reported. Once the 20 prisoners arrive they will taken by ferry to a prison at the base. U.S. military officials said the detainees will be housed in outdoor units until the facility is completed.

Prisoners will be held in shelters made of chain-link fencing and canvas, allowing guards to monitor them at any time.

The new prison being built at Guantanamo Bay will hold up to 2,000 prisoners.

The United States has 371 prisoners, more than 300 of whom are kept under close guard at the Kandahar International Airport, which is being used as a U.S. military base of operations. More than 30 are in Bagram, outside the capital Kabul, 16 at Mazar-i-Sharif in northern Afghanistan and eight aboard the USS Bataan in the Arabian Sea.

The prisoners being transferred were expected to be chained to their seats during the 20-hour flight, and outnumbered two-to-one by security guards. The guards were armed with stun guns rather than regular guns, which could cause the cabin to lose pressure if fired. The prisoners might also be sedated, according to U.S. military officials.

The human rights group Amnesty International said Thursday that such treatment may be prohibited by international law.

According to international standards, restraints may be used when strictly necessary as a precaution against escape, damage or injury, the organization said. Furthermore, sedating prisoners for other than medical purposes would be a breach of international standards.

"Housing detainees in Guantanamo in 6-by-8-foot chain-link 'cages' at least partially open to the elements would also fall below minimum standards for humane treatment," Amnesty International said.

The Red Cross also expressed concern about the photos of hooded prisoners shown on CNN.

In Afghanistan, armed gunmen fired on the U.S. military base at Kandahar International Airport shortly after the hooded detainees were placed on a specially secured C-17 aircraft Thursday and flown toward a prison in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, Marine spokesman Lt. James Jarvis told CNN.

"We had foot mobile folks that were able to penetrate our lines," Jarvis said.

The Marines and Afghan anti-Taliban forces sent out several teams of soldiers to search the perimeter, he said.

"We cleared the areas from which we thought we received fire," Jarvis said. "We don't have any active threat there anymore. As of right now, we don't feel we're threatened anymore."

Meanwhile, there are no indications that the plane crash that killed seven U.S. Marines in Pakistan was anything other than an accident, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld said.

"Because it was an air refueler, it had bladders of fuel aboard, and the fireball occurred, according to the best evidence we have, as it hit the ground not before it hit the ground," Rumsfeld said. Pentagon spokeswoman Victoria Clarke said a team of military mortuary and recovery experts was on its way to the site where the plane crashed on Wednesday.

"Their deaths, along with that of the U.S. Special Forces soldier last week, underscore the fact that the mission in Afghanistan remains difficult and remains dangerous," Rumsfeld said.

The accident brings to 17 the number of military personnel who have died since the start of "Operation Enduring Freedom" on Oct. 7. Only one of those--the death of Army special forces Sgt. Nathan Chapman last week--was the result of hostile fire. A CIA officer was killed in early November during a prison uprising at Mazar-i-Sharif.

Killed in the crash were command pilot Capt. Matthew W. Bancroft, 29, of Shasta, Calif.; co-pilot Capt. Daniel G. McCollum, 29, of Richland, S.C.; flight engineer Gunnery Sgt. Stephen L. Bryson, 35, of Montgomery, Ala.; loadmaster Staff Sgt. Scott N. Germosen, 37, of Queens, N.Y.; flight mechanic Sgt. Nathan P. Hays, 21, of Lincoln, Wash.; flight navigator Lance Corp. Bryan P. Bertrand, 23, of Coos, Ore.; and radio operator Sgt. Jeannette L. Winters, 25, of Du Page, Ill.

Copyright 2002 by United Press International. All rights reserved.

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A transport plane, which left Kandahar on Thursday, was expected to arrive at about 8:30 a.m. EST on Friday, the British Broadcast Corp. reported. Once the 20 prisoners arrive they will taken by ferry to a prison at the base. U.S. military officials said the detainees will...
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2002-00-11
Friday, 11 January 2002 12:00 AM
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