Sun, Jun 05, 2005 - Page 1 News List

Pentagon details `mishandling' of Koran at prison

AP , WASHINGTON

US military officials admitted that a copy of the Koran was splashed with urine at the Guantanamo Bay prison camp for terror suspects, but said none of the guards at the facility flushed the Muslim holy book down the toilet.

Among other newly disclosed incidents cited in a Pentagon report on the mishandling of the sacred text at the prison were reports that a detainee's Koran was deliberately kicked and another's was stepped on.

On March 25, a detainee complained to guards that "urine came through an air vent" and splashed on him and his Koran. A guard admitted he was at fault, but the report did not make clear whether the guard intended the result.

The findings, released after normal business hours on Friday evening, are among the results of an investigation last month by Brigadier General Jay Hood, the commander of the detention center in Cuba.

The investigation was triggered by a Newsweek magazine report -- later retracted -- that a US soldier had flushed one camp detainee's Koran down a toilet.

The story stirred worldwide controversy, and the Bush administration blamed it for deadly demonstrations in Afghanistan.

In another confirmed incident cited in the report, water balloons thrown by prison guards caused an unspecified number of Korans to get wet, and in a confirmed but ambiguous case, a two-word obscenity was written in English on the inside cover of a Koran.

Hood said in a written statement released with the new details that his investigation "revealed a consistent, documented policy of respectful handling of the Koran dating back almost two-and-a-half years."

Hood said that of nine mishandling cases that were studied in detail by reviewing thousands of pages of written records, five were confirmed but he could not determine conclusively whether the other four took place.

Hood also said his investigation found 15 cases of detainees mishandling their own Korans.

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