Kabul: US soldier convicted of punching detainees

An American soldier has been sentenced to four months' confinement and a reduction in rank and pay after being found guilty of punching detainees in Afghanistan, the US military said. Army Spc. James R. Hayes was found guilty Friday of one count of conspiracy to maltreat and two counts of maltreatment, the military said in a statement Saturday. His rank will be reduced to private and he will forfeit all pay and allowances for four months, the statement said. Hayes was accused of punching detainees in the chest, arms and shoulders at a forward operating base in Afghanistan's Uruzgan Province in July. "The command takes this matter very seriously," said Marine Lt. Col. Bob Fifer, chief of criminal justice for Combined Joint Task Force-76. "This incident was initially reported through the chain of command by soldiers who displayed a great sense of duty and integrity."