Documents detail US abuse inquiries

Recently released documents have disclosed previously unpublicised allegations of prisoner abuse in Iraq and Afghanistan that were investigated by the US Army but in some cases dismissed for lack of evidence.

    The US army has investigated abuse in Iraq and Afghanistan

    The documents released on Friday from the army's Criminal Investigation Division were the latest in a series of such documents obtained through a court order by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU). 

    In the most serious case, an Iraqi detainee in Tikrit claimed Americans dressed in civilian clothes dislocated his arms, stepped on his face, beat his legs with a baseball bat, stuck an unloaded pistol in his mouth and pulled the trigger. 

    The detainee also said the Americans had choked him with a rope during several days of interrogations. 

    Statement signed

    The male detainee, who was seized in a raid on 8 September, 2003, signed a statement on 25 November, 2003 disavowing a complaint of mistreatment. 

    He told investigators in August, 2004 that he signed the waiver after being warned he would never be released otherwise. 

    Detainees' abuse was also
    reported in Afghan prisons

    A medical examination performed as part of the army's investigation showed that the detainee, who was not identified, had scars on his left leg and scars from an operation on his stomach. 

    But members of the reconnaissance platoon that took the Iraqi into custody as a suspected fighters' financier denied he had been abused, or turned over to members of a special operations unit for interrogation. 

    An army summary said the investigation "failed to prove or disprove the offences of aggravated assault and maltreatment of prisoner occurred as initially alleged." 

    "Further, investigation established probable cause to believe the offences of aggravated assault and maltreatment of a prisoner were not committed as initially alleged as a thorough investigation determined there were inconsistencies in Mr (deleted) statements and there was a lack of supporting witnesses or medical records to corroborate his complaint," investigators said. 

    Compact disk discovered

    Another investigation was triggered by the discovery of a compact disk in Afghanistan in July 2004 that contained digital images of soldiers pointing pistols and M-4 rifles at the heads and backs of bound and hooded detainees at Fire Base Tyscze in Dae Rahwood. 

    "Investigation did not establish credible information to
    indicate an intent on behalf of these individuals to harm the PUC's (prisoners under control)"

    Investigation statement


    Probable cause, in the case, was found to charge one soldier with assault for hitting a prisoner in the back of the head, and dereliction of duty on the part of eight soldiers. But more serious charges of aggravated assault were not substantiated. 

    "Investigation did not establish credible information to indicate an intent on behalf of these individuals to harm the PUC's (prisoners under control), and no evidence (was) identified to indicate the bound detainees were in fear of their lives, or of grievous bodily harm, or even aware weapons were being pointed at them as depicted in the images," the investigation found. 

    Previous allegations

    Other previously undisclosed allegations of abuse in the documents include reports by senior psychological operations officers in Afghanistan who said they witnessed indiscriminate attacks by special forces on civilians in raids during May 2004 in the villages of Gurjay and Sukhagen. 

    That investigation was closed because possible victims and villagers could not be interviewed, according to the documents. 

    However, CID investigators found "probable cause" to charge two soldiers for assault in another case near Mosul, Iraq, in late 2003 "when they photographed, mistreated, struck and kicked an unknown Iraqi male whom they had detained at a checkpoint for the alleged rape of an Iraqi woman."



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