Military Flies Shooting Suspect Out of Afghanistan

WASHINGTON, March 14, 2012 — The mil­i­tary today air­lift­ed out of Afghanistan the U.S. sol­dier accused of going on a shoot­ing ram­page tar­get­ing Afghan civil­ians ear­li­er this week, a Pen­ta­gon spokesman said.

Navy Capt. John Kir­by, in an inter­view with Fox News at the Pen­ta­gon, con­firmed that the sol­dier was flown out of Afghanistan. He declined to say where he is being held.

The sol­dier, whom the mil­i­tary has yet to iden­ti­fy, was tak­en out of Afghanistan because there was no appro­pri­ate place to detain him there, Kir­by said.

“This is in accor­dance with our own reg­u­la­tions and poli­cies to have him in a prop­er deten­tion facil­i­ty and to con­tin­ue to be inter­viewed and cared for appro­pri­ate­ly,” he said. “So we’ve moved him to an appro­pri­ate deten­tion facil­i­ty out­side the coun­try.”

Kir­by agreed with a reporter’s assess­ment that Afghans are “under­stand­ably livid” about the sol­dier being tak­en out of Afghanistan, but he said U.S. mil­i­tary offi­cials have been in close con­tact with Afghan offi­cials.

“We have kept Afghan author­i­ties, all the way up to Pres­i­dent [Hamid] Karzai, informed of this trans­fer,” he said. “They know we’re doing this, and they know why we’re doing this.”

Army offi­cials have iden­ti­fied the sus­pect only as a non­com­mis­sioned offi­cer. He is accused of leav­ing his base in Kan­da­har province in the mid­dle of the night March 11 and shoot­ing Afghans in their homes near­by. Afghan offi­cials say 17 were killed.

It is Defense Depart­ment pol­i­cy to release a suspect’s name after charges have been levied against him. That has not yet occurred, Kir­by said.

Because of the “heinous nature of the crimes, and the scope and mag­ni­tude of the dev­as­ta­tion,” the cap­tain said, mil­i­tary offi­cials don’t want to rush inves­ti­ga­tors.

Defense Sec­re­tary Leon E. Panet­ta has told Karzai the inves­ti­ga­tion will be done rapid­ly, Kir­by said. “But more impor­tant,” he added, “it will be done thor­ough­ly.”

U.S. Depart­ment of Defense
Office of the Assis­tant Sec­re­tary of Defense (Pub­lic Affairs)