The Straits Times
Published on Sep 10, 2012

Afghanistan 'takes control' of controversial US prison


BAGRAM, Afghanistan (AFP) - Afghanistan said on Monday it had taken control of a controversial prison set up by US troops, but is yet to iron out disagreements over the fate of hundreds of inmates.

A move hailed by Kabul as a victory for sovereignty, analysts say it is largely symbolic as Nato prepares to leave Afghanistan after more than a decade fighting the Taleban, leaving Afghan security personnel in charge in late 2014.

Major questions remain over the immediate and long-term fate of more than 3,100 inmates, which include Taleban fighters and terror suspects, held at Bagram, sometimes referred to as the Guantanamo Bay of Afghanistan. Around 50 foreigners are not covered by the agreement, and hundreds of other Afghans arrested since the transfer deal was signed on March 9 are also being held at the Parwan Detention Facility, outside the Bagram US airbase north of Kabul.

Afghan officials on Monday presided over a small handover ceremony, which was marked by a low attendance among US and Nato officers. "I'm happy that today we are witnessing a glorious ceremony that marks the handing over of responsibilities of Afghan prisoners to Afghans themselves," acting defence minister Enayatullah Nazari told the ceremony.