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Top al Qaeda operative escapes before testimony in Afghan prisoner abuse case

[JURIST] A Pentagon official confirmed Tuesday that Omar al-Farouq, formerly one of Osama bin Laden's top aides until his capture in 2002, escaped from a US-run detention facility in Afghanistan in July with three other prisoners. His escape means he will not testify against Sgt. Alan J. Driver, the soldier accused of maltreatment and assault [JURIST report] against al-Farouq and other Bagram Airfield [Global Security profile] detainees, one of whom later died. Al-Farouq could have been the first detainee to testify against a soldier in the Afghanistan prisoner abuse cases [Wikipedia backgrounder]. In other cases involving Afghan prisoner abuse [JURIST report], alleged victims had been either unidentified or dead. Independent investigator Lt. Col. Roger E. Nell will decide whether or not the case should go to trial or if the charges against Driver should be dropped or reduced. In a preliminary hearing Tuesday, several witnesses testified that they say Driver mistreat detainees. IN addition to the 15 US soldiers charged for the death of two Afghan detainees at Bagram after beatings in 2002, earlier this week two US soldiers were charged with prisoner abuse [JURIST report] in a separate assault at Bagram. US officials said Wednesday that security at the Bagram detention facility has been tightened [AP report] after the July prison escape. AP has more.

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