Only a dozen

Canwest talks to the current warden of Sarpoza prison in Afghanistan.

Prisoners were tortured at Sarpoza Prison in Afghanistan, but not in nearly the numbers alleged this past week by a Canadian diplomat, the prison’s chief warden has told Canwest News Service.

“Yes, there was torture and people were certainly beaten,” chief warden Col. Abdullah Bawar said Saturday during an interview conducted inside the prison’s heavily guarded walls. “Hands and legs would be tied and they would be beaten with cables. I even remember one man who broke his leg from a beating.”

Although his timeline was a bit fuzzy as to when such abuses stopped, Bawar estimated that “around 100 prisoners” from a population of about 1,100 had been physically abused during 2006 and 2007, which he referred to as “this dark period.” The information Bawar offered makes it nearly impossible to say precisely how many — if any — of the abused prisoners would have been handed over by Canadian troops. A rough estimate suggests it may have only been as many as a dozen.

In a separate analysis, David Pugliese estimates Canada may have turned over nearly 600 detainees. Former diplomat Harry Sterling says the Colvin paper trail should be easy to follow. And CBC posts the report that, if I’m not mistaken, momentarily brought a halt to transfers in November 2007.

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