U.S. recommends administrative punishment for Afghan Koran burning
By Mirwais Harooni and Missy Ryan
KABUL (Reuters) - U.S. soldiers involved in burning copies of the Koran in Afghanistan may face only administrative discipline, a U.S. official said, a move that could deepen frustration among Afghans seeking more serious punishment for a series of public American missteps there this year.
A U.S. official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said on Wednesday that an investigation into the February incident on a NATO military base near Kabul concluded with recommendations for administrative action for the military personnel involved.
Such action might include a written reprimand or docked pay, but not job loss or criminal charges, the official said. U.S. military officials have not announced any final decisions on the recommendations.
Another U.S. official said the administrative action was recommended for "most of the service members involved" in the incident in which Afghan laborers found charred copies of the Koran among trash on the Bagram base north of Kabul. But the official declined to say exactly how many U.S. troops.
Eleven soldiers were sent out of Afghanistan over the Koran desecration, which U.S. officials said was unintentional but which exposed deep divisions between foreign troops and Afghans wearied by more than 10 years of war.
The office of Afghan President Hamid Karzai declined comment on the possible move by the Pentagon.
Nazir Ahmad Hanafi, an influential member of Afghanistan's parliament and deputy head of its judicial committee, said relatively light punishment for the soldiers involved would have "dangerous consequences."
Hanafi, a member of Afghanistan's Ulema Council of clerics who also took part in an initial joint Afghan-U.S. probe into the incident, said he favored a more severe punishment, possibly even life in prison. Continued...