Monday, January 23, 2006

U.S. To Move Afghan Detainees From Cuba To Jail Outside Kabul

By Tony Capaccio
January 20, 2006

The U.S. plans to move about 100 Afghan nationals now detained at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, to a prison outside Kabul.

The Army Corps of Engineers is taking bids on a $10 million contract to renovate an unused detention center 24 miles east of the Afghan capital. The contract could be awarded next month with completion of the work scheduled 12 months later, according to a Corps document and a spokeswoman.

The U.S. military holds about 500 people at Guantanamo, many of them captured after the U.S. ousted Afghanistan's Taliban regime following the Sept. 11 attacks. Most are held without charges. While the detainees' lawyers have sought their trial or release, the U.S. says they are "enemy combatants" whose detention is necessary in the war on terrorism.

The Afghan detainees would be transferred to Afghan custody for possible prosecution, the Corps said in an e-mail statement.

The project stems from an August 2005 agreement with Afghan president Hamid Karzai. It's "part of our broader, ongoing efforts to transfer detainees to their home countries when we receive assurances the country can and will take appropriate steps to ensure these individuals do not pose a continuing threat," said Pentagon spokesman Lieutenant Colonel Mark Ballesteros in an e-mail statement.

The project calls for repairing and refurbishing the facility outside Kabul "so that it can begin accepting detainees to be processed through the Afghan court system," a Corps contracting document said. "The scope is to rehabilitate the detention center to meet United Nations standards for detained personnel," it said.


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