David Passaro Obituary – Death: Abdul Wali was an Afghan farmer
Abdul Wali, a 28-year-old Afghan farmer, died in the custody of the United States on June 21, 2003, after being held for three days at a US base located 10 miles (16 kilometers) south of Asadabad in Afghanistan’s Kunar province. He was suspected of being involved in a missile attack on the same base but had voluntarily surrendered after the local governor, Said Akbar, advised him to clear his name.
Initially believed to have died of a heart attack, the cause of Wali’s death was later questioned when three members of the U.S. 82nd Airborne Division testified that CIA agent David Passaro had beaten Wali severely. Passaro, a former U.S. Army Ranger, was accused of depriving Wali of sleep, food, and water, and interrogating and beating him for two consecutive nights, which resulted in serious injuries including a suspected pelvic fracture that prevented him from urinating. Witnesses testified that Passaro kicked Wali in the groin, lifted him forcefully off the floor, threw him to the ground, hit him with a heavy Maglite flashlight, and poked the flashlight hard into Wali’s belly. After the second night of beatings, Wali begged soldiers to kill him, and he died on his fourth day in custody.
Passaro was initially charged with two counts of battery and two counts of assault and faced up to 40 years in prison. However, he was found guilty of one aggravated assault and three simple assaults at low altitude, which carried a maximum sentence of 11.5 years in prison. Wali’s death was considered by the local governor to have helped terrorists recruit, and he wrote to the judge, urging him to impose the harshest possible sentence. Passaro was sentenced to eight years and four months in prison, which was more than double the recommended sentence by national sentencing guidelines.
During Passaro’s trial, his ex-wife Kerry testified that he had physically and mentally abused her during their marriage. She later stated to reporters that she was not surprised by Passaro’s actions.
In 2010, Passaro’s sentence was reduced to six years and eight months, and he was released from prison on January 26, 2011. The judge stated that he was grateful that an autopsy report was not conducted, or Passaro would likely have been charged with murder.