Sun, May 23, 2004 - Page 6 News List

Prison abuse was for fun, `Post' says

REUTERS , WASHINGTON

US soldiers who abused prisoners in Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq were not always preparing them for interrogation but were punishing them or simply having fun, The Washington Post reported yesterday.

The newspaper reported on documents showing that military police staged some of the abuse seen in now-notorious photographs to discipline the prisoners for riots, an alleged rape of a teenage boy and other acts.

Some of the photographs have been widely published, among them shots of a pyramid of naked prisoners, a hooded man standing on a box hooked up to wires, and three nude prisoners handcuffed together on the prison floor. The Post on Friday disclosed a collection of new photographs and video images and sworn depositions regarding the abuse of detainees by US soldiers.

On Saturday, the Post said it had a sworn written statement in which a military police officer said civilian and military intelligence officers frequently visited the prison at night, taking detainees away for questioning inside a "wood hut" behind the prison.

The US Congress and the Pentagon are both investigating the revelations of physical and sexual abuse of Iraqi inmates at the prison outside Baghdad.

Seven US soldiers, four men and three women are facing courts-martial for abuses at Abu Ghraib and one, Specialist Jeremy Sivits, pleaded guilty on Wednesday. Another of them, Specialist Charles Graner, was identified in statements by eight detainees and is facing more charges than the others.

The Post said several of the personnel seen in the photographs, including Sivits, Specialist Sabrina Harman, Sergeant Javal Davis and Private Lynndie England, have given statements to investigators.

The abuse was first reported by Specialist Joseph Darby, who is quoted as saying he found out about it when he began checking into a shooting at the prison.

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