US troops escape criminal charges for incidents that outraged Afghanistan
Burning of Qur'ans and urinating on corpses in Afghanistan led to allegations against six US army soldiers and three marines
Six US army soldiers and three marines escaped criminal charges but received administrative punishments for mistakenly burning Qur'ans and urinating on the corpses of Taliban insurgents in Afghanistan, US military officials said Monday.
US military leaders widely condemned the incident revealed earlier this year. The Qur'an burning triggered riots and retribution killings: two US troops were shot by an Afghan soldier and two US military advisers were gunned down at their desks at the interior ministry.
The soldiers were disciplined for the burning of Qur'ans earlier this year at a US base in Afghanistan, and the marines were punished for their participation in a video that showed them urinating on Taliban corpses.
Discipline against a Navy sailor in the Qur'an burnings was dismissed, and the Marine Corps said it would announce discipline against additional Marines in the urination case at a later date.
The exact punishments were not disclosed on Monday but could include demotions, extra duty or forfeiture of pay. They could also stall any future advancement and end the military careers of the nine.
Aimal Faizi, a spokesman for the Afghan president, said Hamid Karzai's office would review the decisions. News of the punishments came late at night in Afghanistan.
The religious books and other materials were thrown into a pit used to burn rubbish at Bagram air field, a major US base north of Kabul.
US officials said the holy books were pulled out by Afghan workers before they were destroyed. President Barack Obama later apologised to Karzai for the incident.
The urination video, which came to light in January and appeared on YouTube, showed four marines in full combat gear urinating on the bodies of three dead men. On Monday, the Marine Corps revealed that there were also photographs taken at the time. In the video, one marine looks down at the bodies and says, "Have a good day, buddy."
The unit involved fought in the southern Afghan province of Helmand for seven months before returning to its home base in North Carolina last September.
The Marine Corps said one marine pleaded guilty to urinating on the Taliban soldiers and posing for a photograph. Another marine pleaded guilty to wrongfully videotaping the incident and posing for a photograph and a third pleaded guilty to failing to report the mistreatment of human casualties and lying about it.