A lawyer for the former CIA contractor accused of beating an Afghan detainee said Friday that the prisoner died from a heart attack while in custody.
The contractor and former Army Special Forces soldier, David A. Passaro, 37, of Lillington, N.C., was charged Thursday with two counts each of assault and assault with a dangerous weapon -- a flashlight. He has a detention hearing scheduled Tuesday morning in U.S. District Court in Raleigh.
Passaro was charged in the June 21, 2003, death of Abdul Wali. Wali had gone to a U.S. base in Afghanistan to surrender because authorities wanted to talk to him about rocket attacks against the base. He died three days after he arrived at the base.
The arrest was the first time civilian charges have been brought in the investigation of prisoner abuse in Iraq and Afghanistan. If convicted, Passaro faces as many as 40 years in prison and a $1 million fine.
Civilian lawyer H. Gerald Beaver of Fayetteville, N.C., said he has a transcript of an Islamic radio broadcast from June 27, 2003, in which an Afghan official said an examination showed Wali died of a heart attack.
The report on Mashhad Radio in Iran quoted the governor of Kunar province where the prison is located and said there were no signs of assault on the body.
The Justice Department said Thursday that no autopsy was performed to establish a cause of death.