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CIA Contractor Retains Conviction

October 27, 2006

RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) _ A federal judge has denied a request from a former CIA contractor to overturn his conviction for assaulting an Afghan detainee who later died.

In a decision issued Thursday, U.S. District Judge Terrence Boyle said the evidence supported the jury’s verdict against David Passaro. Prosecutors had argued Passaro beat Abdul Wali during two days of interrogations in July 2003 at an Army base in northern Afghanistan.

``The jurors heard evidence from eye witnesses regarding Abdul Wali’s brutal beating, his condition after the beating and expert testimony as to the internal injuries such blows were likely to cause,″ Boyle wrote. ``Despite the defendant’s arguments to the contrary, substantial evidence supports the jury’s verdict in this case.″

Passaro was convicted in August in federal court of felony assault with a dangerous weapon and three counts of misdemeanor assault.

Boyle said the evidence showed Wali arrived at the compound as a healthy young man, then died after being beaten for two days.

``Notably, the absence of an autopsy likely shielded the defendant from murder charges,″ Boyle wrote.

An after-hours telephone message left Thursday at the office of Passaro’s defense attorney, Joe Gilbert, wasn’t immediately returned.

Passaro faces up to 11 years in prison and a $250,000 fine when sentenced. He was the first American civilian charged with mistreating a detainee during the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

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