Kabul, Mar 15: Afghan lawmakers expressed anger today that the US flew an American soldier accused of killing 16 civilians to Kuwait, saying Kabul shouldn't sign a strategic partnership agreement with Washington unless the suspect faces justice in Afghanistan.
Negotiations over the agreement, which would govern the presence of US forces in Afghanistan after most combat troops withdraw by the end of 2014, were tense even before the shooting deaths of the civilians, including nine children, in southern Kandahar province on Sunday.
The killings came in the wake of violent protests last month triggered by American soldiers who burned Qurans and other Islamic texts. Over 30 people were killed in those demonstrations, and Afghan forces turned their guns on their supposed allies, killing six US soldiers.
The public response to the shooting spree has been much more muted, partly because senior Afghan officials have used their influence to persuade citizens not to hold demonstrations.
The US flew the suspect out of the country on Wednesday evening, said US officials. The US military said the transfer did not preclude the possibility of trying the case in Afghanistan.
But that didn't appease Afghans upset at the move. “It was the demand of the families of the martyrs of this incident, the people of Kandahar and the people of Afghanistan to try him publicly in Afghanistan,” said Mohammad Naeem Lalai Hamidzai, a Kandahar lawmaker who is part of a parliamentary commission investigating the shootings.