The U.S. military said Monday it is disciplining U.S. troops over two incidents that provoked outrage in Afghanistan early this year, one involving a video depicting Marines urinating on corpses and another over burned copies of the Koran.
The administrative punishments -- which could include things like reduce rank or forfeiture of pay -- fell short of criminal prosecution, and it was unclear whether they would satisfy Afghan demands for justice, Reuters reported.
Afghan President Hamid Karzai had branded the Marine's actions in the video as "inhuman," and he initially called for a public trial for the soldiers over the Koran incident.
A detailed U.S. military investigation showed that up to 100 Korans and other religious texts from a detention center library -- a previously undisclosed figure -- were burned on Feb. 20. The investigation found that warnings from Afghans, including a Afghan soldier, had been ignored and attributed the incident in part to distrust between Americans and Afghans.
"However, I absolutely reject any suggestion that those involved acted with any malicious intent to disrespect the Koran or defame the faith of Islam," wrote the investigating officer, Brig. Gen. Bryan Watson.
The U.S. Army announced Monday that six soldiers received administrative punishments over the incident, four of them officers and two of the non-commissioned officers, a spokesman said. Such sanctions usually spell the end of military careers.
The investigation found that the texts were removed during a sweep of the library at Parwan detention facility due to concerns that detainees were using books to pass messages.
Members of the Military Police and Theater Intelligence Team had discovered that Bagram detainees were using library books to pass notes and messages, NBC reported. One interpreter determined that 60 percent to 75 percent of the books contained extremist content. So, soldiers were ordered to remove the books as contraband. In all, about 2,000 books, including Qurans and other religious material, were set to be destroyed.
An Afghan National Army soldier and and interpreter warned the troops not to dispose of the religious texts, but soldiers took some 100 books to the burn pit anyway.
The report partly blamed a translator who warned that up to 75 percent of the books were extremist in nature, including versions of the Koran, but did not instruct American forces how to properly dispose of the texts.
A U.S. official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said he believed the translator was an Afghan and that he no longer worked for the U.S. military.
The disclosures about the Koran-burning incident came the same day the Marine Corps detailed its punishment over a video that surfaced on the Internet in January. It showed Marines urinating on the corpses of dead Taliban fighters. One can be heard saying, "Have a nice day, buddy."
The investigation showed that the incident actually took place on or around July 27, 2011, during a counter-insurgency operation in Afghanistan's Helmand province.
Three Marines pleaded guilty to charges over the video, including one for "urinating on the body of a deceased Taliban soldier." Another wrongfully posed for a photo with human casualties, and the third lied about the incident to investigators.
Their identities were not disclosed, and the Marines said disciplinary actions against additional Marines would be announced at a later date.
Possible punishment includes reduction in rank, forfeiture of pay and punitive letters permanently placed in their records, the Marines said.