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Contractor accused of assault denied bail

RALEIGH, N.C. -- A federal judge yesterday ordered former CIA contractor David Passaro to remain jailed until his assault trial after prosecutors said witnesses would testify that Passaro beat an Afghan detainee so badly he begged to be shot.

Following a detention hearing, US Magistrate Judge William Webb connected a 1990 assault by Passaro when he was a Hartford police officer and the alleged beating of Abdul Wali in an Afghanistan prison. Webb said the Connecticut case ''started a pattern I see repeated here of structuring stories, setting plans."

Passaro faces four counts of assault and assault with a dangerous weapon, a large flashlight. Wali, who was 28, died at a US base in Afghanistan on June 21, 2003.

During the hearing yesterday, prosecutors questioned Passaro's girlfriend about allegedly coded telephone conversations the two had about money and Passaro's passport.

Earlier, Assistant US Attorney Jim Candelmo said three members of the 82d Airborne Division would testify that Passaro beat Wali with a heavy flashlight 10 to 30 times and kicked him so hard he came off the ground.

A paratrooper will testify that when Passaro left the room to take a break during one interrogation session, Wali begged one of the paratroopers guarding him ''to please shoot me before the defendant returned," Candelmo added.

Defense lawyers have cited an Afghan governor's comment that Wali died of a heart attack. US officials say an autopsy was not conducted.

''Mr. Passaro is not just a soldier," public defender Alan DuBois said. ''His record will show he is an elite soldier" whose background has been rigorously investigated for security clearances in the special forces.

If convicted, Passaro faces up to 40 years in prison and a $1 million fine.

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