US softens Iraq interrogation

In a storm over prisoner abuses, the US military has prohibited several harsh interrogation methods from being used in Iraq.

    Iraqi prisoners are beaten and humiliated

    Defence officials on Friday said the techniques prohibited from being used included sleep and sensory deprivation and body ''stress positions.''

    Officials said these techniques previously required high-level approval from the US military leadership in Iraq, but now would be banned completely.

    They said the decision was made on Thursday by the top US commander in Iraq, Lt Gen Ricardo Sanchez, coinciding with  Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld's surprise trip to the occupied-country.

    Pressured Pentagon

    Chief Pentagon spokesman Lawrence DiRita said Rumsfeld did not direct Sanchez to make the move, but added the ''heightened scrutiny of the last couple of weeks'' likely played a role.

    Officials refused to say the methods were barred because they were onerous or violated the Geneva Convention governing the treatment of prisoners of war.

    Sanchez, however, decided to allow the practice of isolating a prisoner for more than 30 days, officials said.

    US military interrogation techniques have come under scrutiny after revelations of large scale abuses at Abu Ghraib prison near Baghdad.

    Prisoners were kept naked, stacked on top of each other, compelled to wear hoods over their heads, forced to engage in sex acts and beaten up.

    SOURCE: Agencies


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