Soldiers charged for 'wasting ammunition'
Three Polish soldiers serving in the NATO mission in Afghanistan are facing up to eight years in prison after a newspaper obtained video of them blowing up an abandoned Afghan house "for fun."
"This is how soldiers play in Afghanistan," declares the headline at Poland's Republic newspaper, which obtained video of a house being blown up in a desolate Afghan valley.
"Beautiful," a voice can be heard after the house explodes. "Winnie the Pooh's hut has been blown up," the soldier says, using a rhyming Polish expression.
"That'll show 'em our strength," another soldier can be heard saying, to laughter.
The soldiers evidently used a Polish-made tank known as a "Wolverine" to blow up the building.
"This was done for fun," an unnamed Polish military officer told the Republic, adding that the building was one of several in the area that appeared to have been abandoned.
"This was probably the remains of an Afghan village," he said.
The video can be viewed here.
The demolition reportedly took place during Poland's sixth troop rotation in Afghanistan, which took place from October, 2009 to April of this year.
The Republic states that what the soldiers did can be construed as a war crime under international law.
"A ban on attacking civilian structures is a foundation of international law -- regardless of whether the building is worth a million dollars or is an abandoned hut," Elzbieta Mikos-Skuza of the Polish Red Cross told the Republic.
The Republic and other Polish newspapers state that military prosecutors are investigating the case as a criminal "waste of ammunition," a serious offense in the perennially cash-strapped Polish military.
If convicted, they could face up to eight years in jail.
General Janusz Bronowicz, who was responsible for Polish ground forces during the event, said he was never informed of the demolition. Bronowicz described it as "criminal and unacceptable."
Poland has 2,600 troops serving in the Afghan coalition. The country has set a deadline of 2012 for the withdrawal of its forces.