Pentagon: NATO played wrong pilot tape in convoy incident
April 17, 1999
WASHINGTON (CNN) -- The Pentagon said Saturday that the pilot heard in a audiotape released by NATO was not involved in the mistaken bombing of a civilian vehicle in Kosovo, as NATO officials had earlier implied.
"That F-16 pilot in the audiotape is not thought to be responsible in any way for anything other than the attack he described on a military vehicle," said Navy Capt. Steve Pietropaoli at a news briefing in Washington.
NATO officials played the recording of an unidentified pilot at their Thursday news briefing, after acknowledging that NATO forces had mistakenly hit a civilian vehicle.
Pietropaoli said he did not know why NATO had played the tape, adding that "the result has been 72 hours of confusion instead of 72 hours of clarity."
Serb authorities have said that NATO forces hit several civilian convoys in separate attacks on Wednesday. NATO officials admit that civilians may have been hit in one of Wednesday's missions, but say they will not release more information until they have completed an investigation.
Serb Television aired gruesome pictures of the aftermath of what it said was a NATO attack on a convoy of ethnic Albanians trying to flee the province. Serb authorities have reported that between 64 and 85 people were killed in the convoy attacks.
The Pentagon also offered a few details Saturday about the Yugoslav lieutenant captured earlier this week by Kosovo Liberation Army forces and turned over to the U.S. military.
Navy Capt. Michael Doubleday told reporters that the prisoner of war had met with representatives from the International Committee of the Red Cross and had been allowed to send a letter to his family, as required by the Geneva Conventions. His treatment, Doubleday said, contrasted with the handling of three U.S. soldiers in Yugoslav custody.
"The list of things we don't know about the treatment of the U.S. soldiers is extensive," he said. "We have never heard anything official through any entity on the treatment of those three soldiers."
Doubleday said he had no new details about the capture of the Yugoslav soldier, which took place late Tuesday or early Wednesday near the Kosovo town Junik. KLA forces turned the prisoner over to Albanian authorities, who in turn handed him over to U.S. army authorities.
The soldier, Doubleday said, was from the Prva Drugi battalion and commanded about 20 infantrymen.
Yugoslav POW in U.S. custody; reserves to be called up
Extensive list of Kosovo-related sites
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