NATO Feared Publication of War Crimes Photos for 100 Days

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NATO had been preparing for close to 100 days for the possible publication of controversial photos of a Boise soldier accused of war crimes. The photographs, published Sunday by the German news organization Der Spiegel, included images allegedly documenting atrocities.

Army documents allege Pfc. Andrew Holmes of Boise and other soldiers are responsible for the deaths of three Afghan civilians in Kandahar Province in January 2010. Holmes is behind bars at Joint Base Lewis-McChord outside of Seattle awaiting a general court martial hearing for the alleged crimes.

One of the photos published by Der Spiegel showed Holmes kneeling next to a corpse.

At NATO headquarters, there were fears that the coming days could see angry protests in Afghanistan or even potential attacks against NATO units.

"The images have an enormous potential here in Afghanistan," one NATO general is quoted as saying in Der Spiegel. "Experience shows that it might take a couple of days, but then people's anger will be vented."

Vice President Joe Biden is reported to have spoken about the case with Afghan President Hamid Karzai. The head of all NATO troops in Afghanistan, General David Petraeus, likewise met with Karzai.

Another story in Der Spiegel, printed today, included new details about the alleged murders. One of the accused, Corporal Jeremy Morlock, who appears in one of the photographs, is scheduled to face a general court martial this Thursday.