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Federal prosecutors to probe deadly NATO air strike in Afghanistan

DDP/DPA/The Local · 6 Nov 2009, 16:14

Published: 06 Nov 2009 11:39 GMT+01:00
Updated: 06 Nov 2009 16:14 GMT+01:00

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The chief state prosecutor’s office in Dresden handed the case over to the country’s highest investigators, who must now decide whether Klein’s decision to call the attack, which resulted in the death of up to 142 insurgents and civilians, was in line with international criminal law.

Just after the incident occurred, Berlin contended that only Islamist insurgents had been killed in the bombardment, but later admitted there had been an unspecified number of civilian victims. Klein was then accused of violating NATO's rules of engagement by calling the strike.

Last week, NATO released a secret report to German authorities about the September 4 air strike on the two fuel trucks taken by the Taliban in the northern Afghan region near Kunduz.

The Bundeswehr's top commander General Wolfgang Schneiderhan then said in a speech that he was convinced the German officers involved in the controversial attack acted correctly in what was a “difficult operational situation.”

Defence Minister Karl-Theodor zu Guttenberg said Friday that the bombardment was “appropriate” and that he did not doubt Schneiderhan’s assessment.

Guttenberg said he assumed that civilians were killed and that he regretted each victim “from the heart and deeply.”

While he admitted there had been “procedural errors,” he said there would still have been an air strike nonetheless.

But Green party parliamentarian Omid Nouripour on Friday said it appeared Col. Klein was at fault for not following proper military protocol in the deadly incident.

“I can tell you after reading the report that I don’t have the impression our allegations were wrong,” he told German broadcaster Deutschlandfunk.

Story continues below…

Nouripour encouraged the government to craft its own report on the incident, which he said Washington has done in a similar case.

He also said Germany needs a prosecutor’s office specifically to handle foreign military operations because conventional authorities are often overwhelmed with the complicated legal inquiries.

Germany has around 4,400 troops in an increasingly unpopular mission in Afghanistan facing an ever more tenacious insurgency.

DDP/DPA/The Local (news@thelocal.de)

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Your comments about this article

12:30 November 6, 2009 by FirstCrusade
Why don't they open the books and investigate Dresden or any of the other cities that were utterly destroyed by the Communists and their useful idiot Allies in WW2?
13:58 November 6, 2009 by airborne1092
The event in this story happened in Afghanistan, not Dresden. Please try to stay the course.

I agree with General Wolfgang Schneiderhan regarding the incident. Civilian casualties during war are unavoidable. The vast difference between NATO and the Taliban/AQN is contributing NATO countries all strive to REDUCE the numbers of casualties - civilian or otherwise - whereas the Taliban and AQN strive to INCREASE those numbers as a piece of their PR efforts contributing to the entire fight.

Col. Georg Klein made the right decision to deny the enemy equipment and precious fuel, it's sad that civilians were killed because they either need a ride or they were encouraged/forced to ride the equipment. To believe that NATO is the only force in Afghanistan who can harm innocent civilians is simply ludicrous.
15:53 November 6, 2009 by Furor Teutonicus
A few points arise.

1) The U.S commander who SENT the airstrike in after the request should be considered equaly guilty.

2) As we learned at Nürnberg, the pilots should have questioned the order.

3) Have any of these bastards ever BEEN in a situation whereby you call ij an air strike?

I HAVE. I have called MORE than one in. And believe ME, the LAST thing you need is for the request to have to be sanctioned by "Parliament (H.Q) first.

You call in an air strike because you need it NOW. NOT after the ones with scrambled egg all over their shoulders have finished their port and cigars in the mess, and called a meeting to discuss it.
16:34 November 6, 2009 by edwards629
FirstCrusade yea i agree with you, who did those people think they where when they bombed Dresden, after all the only thing germany was doing was murdering 6 million men, women and children in the death camps, and bombing london with V2 rockets. Yea that was no reason to bomb one of your untouched city's. You moron.
16:40 November 6, 2009 by Psypher
Airborne1092 and Teutonicus, hit all the points I was gonna make about this nonsense. I'll just add this:

1) The Bundeswehr doesn't have any F-15's (as far as I know), and neither Klein nor the CCT who called it in has weapons release authority...that had to be an American tactical decision.

2) Its better to be judged by 12 than carried by 6.
18:38 November 6, 2009 by yonnie
I for one am sick and tired of being held hostage by a group of stone-age religious fanatics. How can you possibly assert civilians were present when they obviously knew the Taliban brought the trucks there? The allegations are crap!

Friends of my enemy are the enemy.

BTW, When was the last time an atheist yelled allah akbar before shooting friends and neighbors?
20:24 November 6, 2009 by edwards629
This guys getting screwd over. But i bet if he was american most you non americans that are sticking up for your country man would say hang him. Thats the difference between americans and other non americans. We come to your rescue when you tell us to get fck'ed.
20:41 November 6, 2009 by Psypher
Rescue?! What rescue?? Historically, you had every economic and cultural reason to have sided with Germany in WWII (pre-1939 trade relations were booming...and oh yeah, German as the official language of the US failed by 1 senate vote back in the day). More recently, after this BS with fuel-tankers went down, the Pentagon/StateDept were the first to start wagging their collective finger at Germany (soon followed by France/Italy)...

Now, as for Dresden1945, Arthur Harris was a massive tool and was more concerned with revenge/retribution than strategic efficacy (and by the way, no one knew a damn thing about any genocidal schemes in February of 1945)!!
22:13 November 6, 2009 by Psypher
One more thing; before everyone gets all wiki-happy and/or starts Googling the hell out of what I just wrote, my official language comment was NOT referring to the "Muhlenberg vote", (so dig deeper)!
00:50 November 7, 2009 by Wabit
I am very sorry for the people killed in this air attack on the fuel tankers, it was indeed very sad. May I please suggest to the angry readers here that had the Taliban been allowed to keep the fuel, then many more of our troops would have died. The alternative was to call in the Air attack and destroy the fuel.

It was without doubt the correct thing to do.
17:28 November 7, 2009 by Major B
Several thoughts: 1)Col Klein should be vindicated and hopefully the intent of the Federal Investigation is truth, not to find a scapegoat. 2)The investigation is good and shows openness and transparency. 3)The comments above are good and healthy -- shows the Germany continues its evolution to "normal nation" status. 4)The situation of the bombing is an example of why the Federal Govmt was/is reluctant to take part in the "combat zones" in the South of Afghanistan. Inevitably, in "the fog of war", bad things happen. Sorry for the civilian deaths, poor villagers who have been dealth a raw deal for years, but this example is precisely why the enlightened want to move away from conflict. If only religious, crazy, insane zealots like the Taliban would cooperate. 5) Time to let WWII go and stop romaniticizing it. The FRG has a stellar reputation in international partnership and cooperation since then and appears to be intent on keeping it. The record shows it went to the North intent on training police, helping the population and using its PRT teams to build up infrastructure. The Taliban brought this fight on and the FRG is right to give its soldiers the same freedoms to use force other militaries have.
16:17 November 8, 2009 by Psypher
....amen! :-)
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