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US Pilots Face Criminal Charges in Friendly-Fire Deaths - 2002-09-13

The U.S. military has filed criminal charges against two F-16 pilots involved in the friendly-fire deaths of four Canadian soldiers in an April incident in Afghanistan.

The two American pilots are charged with involuntary manslaughter in connection with the four deaths, along with eight counts of assault - one for each of the other Canadian soldiers injured in the bombing accident.

The Canadians were conducting a nighttime live-fire exercise south of Kandahar last April when two U.S. F-16's passed over the area and the pilots thought they were under attack from the ground.

A military investigation says the pilots were advised to take no action, but one dropped a more than 200-kilogram bomb that landed on the Canadians.

In addition to the manslaughter and assault charges, the pilots are accused of failing to exercise appropriate flight discipline.

These are the first known criminal charges filed against pilots in the nearly year-old Afghan war, although there have been several other friendly-fire incidents that led to military and civilian casualties.