Investigation Continues Into Alleged Body-Burning
American Forces Press Service
KABUL, Afghanistan, Oct. 20, 2005 The Army Criminal Investigation Division continued its investigation today into alleged misconduct by U.S. servicemembers, including the burning of two dead enemy combatant bodies under inappropriate circumstances, said officials.
The allegations surfaced when an Australian television network aired video footage Oct. 19 of the purported body burning.
"The inflammatory nature of this allegation raises two pertinent concerns that the command is investigating," said Army Col. Jim Yonts, Combined Forces Command Afghanistan spokesman.
"First, the command does not advocate, nor does the command tolerate, the wrongful desecration of anyone's remains," Yonts said. "Second, the use of broadcast messages in conjunction with an act such as this does not represent the values and beliefs of this command, therefore necessitating a procedural and policy review."
"These are very serious allegations and if true, they are reprehensible. If the investigation reveals misconduct, those responsible will be held accountable under the Uniform Code of Military Justice," he said.
In Washington, State Department spokesperson Sean McCormack agreed. The Army investigation "will follow the facts wherever they may lead," he said. If wrongdoing is found to have been committed, "then those who are responsible for that wrongdoing will be held to account." "From our point of view," McCormack added, "these are very serious allegations and if true, very troublesome.
"The Department of Defense has said that it is the policy of the United States to treat all remains consistent with the Geneva Convention and with the utmost respect," he said. American military personnel "receive clear instructions to this effect," he said. McCormack said it's important not to allow the alleged "actions of a few to in any way obscure the work of our military and values that that military represents."
He noted that members of the U.S. military "are providing evacuation helicopter flights and delivery of humanitarian aid to those affected in Pakistan by the recent earthquakes."
Accordingly, "what we see in this videotape is not at all reflective of the values of the military or of the United States," McCormack said.
(Based on a news release from Combined Forces Command Afghanistan; AFPS writer Gerry J. Gilmore contributed to this article.)