There was no official reaction from Iraq's interim government, but a handful of ordinary Iraqis interviewed here on Sunday said the trial and its outcome brought no justice.

Rather, it bore a humiliation just as potent as the shame that came when pictures of the abuse first emerged in April.

Abd al-Razak Abd al-Fattah, a 65-year-old retired army officer, said he was shocked to see television footage of Charles Graner leaving the court smiling and laughing even while his legs and hands were shackled.

"It showed on his face that he did not regret the shameful acts that he and his colleagues committed," he said. "Perhaps Americans think that those things, I mean showing people naked, is normal and not shameful."

Outrage

Images of reservists abusing Iraqi detainees at Abu Ghraib caused widespread outrage throughout the Arab world.

Graner was said to have played a
key role in the prisoner abuse

Graner, 36, thought to be the ringleader of the abuse, was accused of stacking naked prisoners in a human pyramid and later ordering them to masturbate while other soldiers took photographs.

He also allegedly punched one man in the head hard enough to knock him out, and struck an injured prisoner with a collapsible metal stick.

He was sentenced on Saturday in the first court martial stemming from the scandal.

"Even though the Iraqi community knows that those abused people were forced to do so, the community will continue to look down on them," said Husayn Muhammad, a 22-year-old student.

Disgrace

A young shopkeeper in downtown Baghdad said Graner and his cohorts should be executed in Iraq in front of those they abused.

"That person brought ignominy to those Iraqis. As Arabs, we prefer to die with honour rather than live with such disgrace," said 24-year-old Muhammad Ahmad.

A teacher in the northern city of Kirkuk said the abuse at the prison recalled the crimes committed by Saddam Hussein's government, and was perhaps more shocking because it was not expected from a country that preaches respect for human rights.

"Iraq was a cemetery for human rights violations. When Saddam created the mass graves we thought that it was a savage thing," Sardar Muhammad, 38, said.

"But when we saw the Americans and what they have done at Abu Ghraib, I was astonished because America came here carrying slogans of freedom and democracy."