Documents reveal Iraq prisoner abuse

The US navy has investigated a number of alleged abuses of Iraqi prisoners by US marines, including an alleged mock execution of four Iraqi juveniles.

    The abuse of Iraqi prisoners has damaged US credibility

    The revelations follow the release on Tuesday of internal US navy documents as a result of a court order.

    Obtained by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), the documents

    show that marines were punished in some instances while other cases were closed after investigations concluded

    the allegations could not be substantiated.

    The ACLU said the documents showed that abuse and even torture

    of detainees by marines in Iraq was widespread.

    A spreadsheet on detainee abuse cases investigated by the Naval Criminal Investigative Services (NCIS) said the alleged mock execution was one of several incidents involving four marine suspects in al-Diwania between 1 June and 6 July 2003.

    They were alleged to have "ordered four juvenile looters to kneel beside two shallow fighting holes and pistol was discharged to conduct a mock execution", the document said.

    Electric shocks


    Two suspects were found guilty of dereliction of duty and sentenced to 30 days of hard labour, while another was reduced in rank, forfeited two-thirds pay for a month and placed under unspecified restriction for 14 days after being found guilty of detainee abuse.


    Charges against the fourth were withdrawn, according to the document.



    kind of widespread abuse could not have taken place

    without a leadership failure of the highest order"


    ACLU executive director

    Another entry shows that five marines were alleged to have taken part in shocking a detainee with an electric transformer at a holding area at al-Mamudia in April 2004.


    An unidentified witness reported that "the detainee danced as he was shocked".


    A general court martial in May 2004 found one marine guilty of "assault, cruelty and mistreatment, dereliction of duty and conspiracy to assault a detainee", the document said. He was sentenced to a year in prison.


    Another marine was sentenced to eight months in prison in the case after being found guilty of similar charges by a special court martial. Three other special court martials were pending





    In another case in al-Mamudia in August 2004, a detainee suffered second degree burns on the back of his hands.


    The document said the detainee asked to use alcohol-based hand sanitiser liquid during a bathroom visit. A marine guard squirted

    some into the detainee's hands, but the excess formed a puddle on

    the floor.


    Bush says prisoner abuse is not
    widespread in US-run jails in Iraq

    "As the marine guard turned to dispose of the empty bottle, [the

    accused marine] lit a match and threw it into the puddle of hand

    sanitiser. The liquid ignited and the flames burned the detainee."

    The unidentified marine was found guilty of "assault by means

    likely to produce death or grievous bodily harm", and sentenced to

    90 days confinement and a reduction in rank.


    In another case cited in the documents, a marine guard shot and

    killed a detainee identified as Hamdan Shaiby on 29 March 2003.


    "The investigation determined that the detainee attacked the

    marine guard and the guard acted in self-defence when he shot the

    detainee that was lunging for the guard's service rifle," the

    document said.


    Leadership questioned


    Commenting on the revelations

    , Anthony

    Romero, ACLU's executive director, said: "This

    kind of widespread abuse could not have taken place

    without a leadership failure of the highest order."


    Pentagon spokesman Lawrence DiRita said he had no information on

    the cases cited in the documents, which have not been previously



    He denied criticism by human rights groups that the military

    often investigated abuses only after they had come under media



    "Many of the cases that are being celebrated have had disposition already made," he said.

    "And there may be a desire that disposition when it is made be publicised, but that's a different thing from saying that we are reacting to publicity."



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