Actions of GIs in Kosovo probedMonday, January 24, 2000
A preliminary U.S. military investigation has found that seven U.S. soldiers, including two first lieutenants, serving as NATO peacekeepers in Vitina, Kosovo, may have used excessive force and inappropriate threats in questioning residents and engaged in "inappropriate physical contact with Kosovar females."
According to one U.S. military officer, three soldiers took an ethnic Albanian man accused of a violent criminal act to a warehouse where they punched him in the stomach, hit him in the head with a rifle and threatened him as they tried to extract information.
The human rights section of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe is also looking into allegations that soldiers in Vitina have engaged in a "pattern of abusive behavior," said one State Department report.
The investigation of A Company, 3rd Battalion, 504th Infantry began at about the same time one of the company's staff sergeants, Frank Ronghi, 35, was charged with sexually assaulting and killing an 11-year-old Vitina girl. The wider investigation is ongoing, no charges have been filed, and officials said none of the alleged misconduct is linked to the murder case.
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