US Army condemns its paras after rape murder in Kosovo

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The Independent Online

The US Army, in a stinging indictment of its own standards of training and discipline, yesterday catalogued a string of violations by one of its units in Kosovo on the Nato peace-keeping operation. In a 1,100-page report, an Army investig- ator found a unit of the 82nd Airborne Division "violated basic standards of conduct, human decency and the Army values".

The US Army, in a stinging indictment of its own standards of training and discipline, yesterday catalogued a string of violations by one of its units in Kosovo on the Nato peace-keeping operation. In a 1,100-page report, an Army investig- ator found a unit of the 82nd Airborne Division "violated basic standards of conduct, human decency and the Army values".

The report, released by the Pentagon, was compiled after the rape and murder of a 12- year-old Kosovar girl by paratroop Staff Sergeant Frank Ronghi last year. He pleaded guilty and was sentenced to life last month. But nine other members of the same unit, A Company, 3rd Bn, 504th Parachute Infantry Regiment - slogan: "Shoot 'em in the face" - were found guilty of abusing ethnic Albanian civilians. One arguments brought in mitigation by Ronghi's defencewas the pervading atmosphere in the unit. Using unusually forthright language, the author of the report, Colonel John Morgan, said "unit members ... intimidated, interrogated, abused and beat Albanians". He said leaders within A Company and the 3rd Bn knew or should have known about the numerous charges of misconduct, including excessive use of force, by members of their unit. By failing to investigate, he said, they had effectively perpetuated "a volatile situation".

Col Morgan said many in the unit had believed they would be going into combat and they were "ill-equipped" for a peace-keeping operation. Some, he said, "experienced difficulties tempering their combat mentality for adapting and transitioning to" peace-keeping.

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