A Collaboration with the University of Pittsburgh

No charges for US soldiers in Taliban corpse burnings

[JURIST] US military officials announced Saturday that four American soldiers will not face criminal charges for burning the bodies of two Taliban rebels in Afghanistan [JURIST report], though they will be subject to disciplinary action. The US Department of Defense [official website] began an investigation into the alleged desecration of the bodies of two dead Taliban fighters last month after an Australian news program aired video [transcript] of US troops who had burned the bodies and allegedly used the charred remains to taunt other Taliban fighters. Maj. Gen. Jason Kamiya, operational commander of US-led coalition forces in Afghanistan, said two junior officers who ordered the bodies burned would be formally reprimanded, but not further sanctioned, because they did so for hygienic purposes and were unaware their actions were wrong, as Islam bans cremation. The other two noncommissioned officers who used loudspeakers to taunt Taliban rebels with the remains will face nonjudicial punishments, such as a loss of pay or demotion in rank, according to Kamiya. Under Article 120 of the Geneva Convention on the Treatment of Prisoners of War [text]

Bodies may be cremated only for imperative reasons of hygiene, on account of the religion of the deceased or in accordance with his express wish to this effect. In case of cremation, the fact shall be stated and the reasons given in the death certificate of the deceased.
Read the executive summary of the military investigation [PDF] released Saturday by US Central Command [official website]. AP has more.

About Paper Chase

Paper Chase is JURIST's real-time legal news service, powered by a team of 30 law student reporters and editors led by law professor Bernard Hibbitts at the University of Pittsburgh School of Law. As an educational service, Paper Chase is dedicated to presenting important legal news and materials rapidly, objectively and intelligibly in an accessible format.

© Copyright JURIST Legal News and Research Services, Inc., 2013.