(AFP) – Sep 14, 2010
OTTAWA — Canada's Defense Ministry is conducting a "major inquiry" into the conduct of its special forces in Afghanistan between 2005 and 2008, CBC public television reported Tuesday.
Dubbed "Sand Trap 2," the investigation follows the narrower "Sand Trap 1" inquiry, which ended after several months but did not result in any charges being filed, Navy Captain David Scanlon told the station.
Contacted by AFP, a spokesman for Defense Minister Peter MacKay declined comment.
Scanlon told CBC that Sand Trap 2 began in 2008 after a Canadian commando raised concerns about the behavior of his colleagues.
Scanlon declined to say what activities or actions were being investigated, but the forces under investigation were part of Joint Task Force Two, which is known to have been involved in operations targeting high-level Taliban and Al-Qaeda members.
The first inquiry, Sand Trap 1, reportedly examined the transfer of detainees from Canadian forces to Afghan authorities, CBC said.
During the period covered by the two investigations, the Joint Task Force was attached to a US special forces command in Kandahar, in south-east Afghanistan, where some 2,800 Canadian forces are deployed.
Media reports and Canada's opposition have accused the Canadian military of handing over prisoners to Afghanistan's government without taking appropriate measures to ensure they would not face abuse or torture.
Scanlon told CBC the Sand Trap 2 inquiry is "distinct and broader."
David McGuinty, head of the opposition Liberals in the House of Commons, called the allegations "serious."
"I think it really underscores what we?ve been saying for some time -- that there?s more here than meets the eye," McGuinty told reporters in Ottawa.
"If these allegations prove true, my understanding is that this investigation was occurring at a time when our own minister (MacKay) was being asked repeatedly for any knowledge that he might have had about allegations of torture or ongoing investigations," McGuinty said.
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