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The Warsaw Voice » Politics » March 31, 2015
In Brief
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Polish Troops Cleared of War Crimes
March 31, 2015   
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A military court in Warsaw March 19 cleared four Polish soldiers of war crime charges over the killing of eight civilians during a NATO-led mission in the Afghan village of Nanghar Khel in 2007. The soldiers were convicted of lesser charges instead and three of them received suspended prison sentences.

The soldiers killed the Afghan civilians while on patrol as part of the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF). The Warsaw court decided the killings were not a war crime, but the result of incorrectly carried out orders. The court found Second Lieutenant Łukasz Bywalec guilty of failing to carry out a reconnaissance of the patrol area and failing to overrule an order that Warrant Officer Andrzej Osiecki had given to shell local buildings with a mortar. The court gave Bywalec a suspended sentence of six months in prison. Osiecki, in turn, was given a suspended sentence of one year for ordering Platoon Sergeant Tomasz Borysewicz to use mortar shells. Borysewicz was given a suspended two-year prison sentence for reckless use of a weapon.

Private Damian Ligocki, who shot at the village from a machine gun, was found guilty of carrying out an order in breach of rules on the use of force that were in effect during the Afghanistan mission. He did not receive a jail sentence.

The military prosecutor’s office had demanded sentences of between five and 12 years of imprisonment for the soldiers and compensation of zl.80,000 to be paid to the victims’ families.

In the attack of Aug. 16, 2007, six people, including two women and three children, were killed in Nanghar Khel and another two died in hospital. Several weeks later, commanders of the Polish military contingent in Afghanistan reached a settlement with the local elders. The victims’ families were paid damages and the injured women received medical treatment in Poland.

All the soldiers accused in the Nanghar Khel case had been tried before, but due to lack of evidence, they were acquitted in June 2011. The prosecutor’s office lodged an appeal with the Supreme Court, requesting a re-trial. In 2012, the Supreme Court upheld the acquittal of three accused soldiers (a captain and two privates) and revoked the decision concerning the remaining four soldiers.
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