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Jessica rape claim shocks Iraqi doctors
The Iraqi doctors who saved the life of US soldier Jessica Lynch are devstated by revelations in her biography alleging she was raped during her capture.
Last Modified: 11 Nov 2003 09:35 GMT
Private Lynch after she was 'rescued' by the US
The Iraqi doctors who saved the life of US soldier Jessica Lynch are devstated by revelations in her biography alleging she was raped during her capture.

Surgeons who treated her said they were shocked and hurt by accusations that she was sexually assaulted.

Lynch came under their care, suffering from multiple injuries, after her convoy was attacked near the southern city of Nassiriya in the initial days of the US-led invasion in March  

In "I am a Soldier, Too: The Jessica Lynch Story" to be published on Tuesday, the author says US military medical records indicated Lynch was raped and sodomised before she was evacuated from a Nassiriya hospital in a US commando raid widely publicised through the world.

The ABC television network quoted Lynch, unconscious after her injuries, as saying she did not remember any sexual assault, adding: "Even just the thinking about that, that's too painful."

"It was our duty to look after her and we did. Now people are saying she was raped... it pains us"

Dr Jamal Kadhim Shwail

A rocket-propelled grenade attack on Lynch's Humvee military vehicle on March 23 left her with a broken leg, arm and ankle and a gash across her head.

Blood loss

Eleven other soldiers were killed in the attack in which the Humvee crashed into another vehicle.

Dr Jamal Kadhim Shwail was the first doctor to examine Lynch when she was brought to Nassiriya's military hospital by Iraqi special police.

This photo from Time magazine's 
November issue features Lynch

Shwail said Lynch was lying in the crowded reception of the hospital, unconscious and in shock from blood loss.

She was wearing her uniform including a flak jacket, military trousers and boots, none of her clothes had been unbuttoned or removed, as the book claims, he said.

"We only had a few minutes to save her life, we found a vein in her neck to give her fluids and blood," Shwail told Reuters at his home in Nassiriya.

A team of five doctors treated Lynch, who was given an anaesthetic to allow a 15-cm (six-inch) cut to her head to be stitched and her fractures realigned.

No signs

He said her flak jacket was removed and her clothes were cut away to expose the injured sites. The anaesthetist cut away an area around her groin to insert a catheter to drain urine.

Lynch, now 20, was the same age as his eldest daughter Noor, said Shwail. A copy of People magazine with the blonde soldier's smiling face on the cover lay on the couch beside him.

"She was a woman, young and alone in a strange country," he said. "It was our duty to look after her and we did. Now people are saying she was raped... it pains us."

Shwail said he saw no signs of rape but neither was he looking for them.

"The thought did not cross my mind. Her injuries were consistent with severe trauma, a car crash, nothing else. Her clothes were not torn, her boots had not been removed. There is no way (she could have been raped)."

Shortly afterwards Lynch was transferred to Saddam Hospital in Nassiriya, now renamed Nassiriya General.

Body was broken

There, Dr Mahdi Khafazji operated on her fractured right femur when her condition had stabilised. He said he cleaned her body before surgery and found no signs of a sexual assault.

"I examined her very carefully," he said at his private clinic in the centre of Nassiriya. "I cleaned her body including her genitalia. She had no sign of raping or sodomising."

"If she had been raped there is no way she could have survived it. She was fighting for her life, her body was broken. What sort of an animal would even think of that?"

Dr Mahdi Khafazji

He said Lynch's injuries were so severe she would have died had she been sexually assaulted after she was wounded.

"If she had been raped there is no way she could have survived it. She was fighting for her life, her body was broken. What sort of an animal would even think of that?"

During the days Lynch was in hospital, Nassiriya was battered by fighting.

Hundreds of civilian casualties poured into the hospital, but a senior medical team assigned to Lynch made sure she had the best care the hospital could provide, and a female nurse was constantly at her bedside, said Dr Khudair al-Hazbar, then deputy director of the Saddam hospital.

"It was war, but we cared about her and we did everything we could for her," he said. "I spoke to her every day. She was frightened, but polite to us. I know she is grateful"

Rape allegations

On 1 April, after Iraqi forces had deserted the hospital, it was raided by US commandos. The event was filmed by the US military through a night-vision lens and Lynch was stretchered away.

"They attacked the hospital at night. There were explosions outside which broke the windows. The patients were terrified," he said. "The Americans knew the Iraqi military had gone so why they didn't come for her quietly, I don't know."

"A doctor who treated Lynch (at a US military base) and who was privy to all her medical records has reported that some of her injuries are consistent with an assault. What more verification do you need?"

Publishing spokesman

Hazbar, now hospital director, said he was shocked by the rape allegations.

"Who is saying this? In our culture, we protect women," he said. "Everyone was very sympathetic towards her. In our culture it is very unusual - a woman, a soldier."

Publishers of the authorised biography by Rick Bragg stood by the anal rape claim.

"A doctor who treated Lynch (at a US military base) and who was privy to all her medical records has reported that some of her injuries are consistent with an assault. What more verification do you need?" a spokesman said.

Source:
Agencies
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