Saturday, September 25, 2010

Our army tolerates torture

Last year, a group of soldiers from Linton army camp got into a brawl in Palmerston North. Following the brawl, they began a witch hunt back at their camp, dragging soldiers from their beds and interrogating them. The interrogations were aided by beatings. One soldier was strangled. Another was questioned while a lit gas burner was held under their leg. At the end of the evening, they smashed someone's face in by throwing them down the stairs.

Yesterday, three soldiers were convicted on assault charges at a court martial. The ringleader got six months detention. The others got ten days and a fine, and 18 months stay of seniority and a reprimand respectively.

The sentences reflect the primary charge of assault, but that's missing the real horror here. These soldiers tortured people. They inflicted severe physical or mental pain or suffering for the purposes of obtaining information. And for it, they got a slap on the wrist. They weren't even discharged. While one has chosen to leave the army, the others will get to continue their careers and spread their poison - that its OK to hold someone down and burn them if you want answers.

The military justice system failed yesterday. These men should be sacked. There should be no place in our military for torturers.