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Army captain cleared of Afghan prisoner abuse

The only officer charged in a 2002 Afghanistan prisoner abuse case will not face a court-martial.
/ Source: The Associated Press

The only officer charged in a 2002 Afghanistan prisoner abuse case will not face a court-martial.

Capt. Christopher M. Beiring said Army prosecutors told him Friday that charges of dereliction of duty and making a false official statement have been dropped by Fort Bliss officials.

Beiring was in charge of a Cincinnati-based reservist military police company stationed at a detention center in Bagram, Afghanistan, when two prisoners died in December 2002. Beiring, along with 10 of his soldiers, were charged in the case. Four military intelligence interrogators from Fort Bragg, N.C., also have faced criminal charges in the investigation.

An Army colonel assigned to investigate the charges against Beiring, 39, recommended last month that he not face a court-martial.

In a lengthy report about the case, Lt. Col. Thomas S. Berg said Beiring’s leadership at Bagram may not have been perfect, but that he did the best he could despite being “sorely challenged at every step.”

Captain cited poor training
Beiring contended that he had insufficient Army training to lead the reservists from the 377th Military Police Company.

Four of Beiring’s soldiers have been acquitted, while charges against two others were dropped before the cases were taken to trial. Two soldiers pleaded guilty and one was convicted by an Army jury. One soldier, Sgt. Alan J. Driver, is set to stand trial on abuse charges in February.

Three of the military intelligence interrogators have pleaded guilty and the other is awaiting trial. Like Beiring’s soldiers, they had been charged with abuse and other counts.

Beiring said he could still receive a letter of reprimand for dereliction of duty, but planned to fight it. He said he plans to continue his Army career — he said he is up for promotion to major — and hopes to transfer to a military intelligence unit and serve another tour in a war zone.

Jean Offutt, a Fort Bliss spokeswoman, said Friday evening that she was unaware of a final decision in Beiring’s case. All the prisoner abuse cases have been tried at Fort Bliss, just outside El Paso.