Sat, Nov 13, 2004 - Page 7 News List

US military uncovers two Guantanamo abuse cases


Two new cases of abuse have surfaced at the Guantanamo Bay prison camp, including one in which a US military commander failed to properly investigate a prison guard who threw cleaning solvent on a terror suspect.

The guard threw the solvent in January and was demoted and reassigned in June, a month after Navy Inspector General Vice Admiral Albert Church visited the remote outpost to investigate claims of abuse. The guard's commanding officer also was reprimanded, military officials said.

Another incident involved a guard in October who hit a detainee after he allegedly spit on the guard and tried to bite him. The guard was demoted and reassigned the same month.

"We have a process in place to review all allegation reports. Each report that alleges mistreatment at Guantanamo is taken seriously," said Army Lieutenant Colonel Leon Sumpter, a spokesman.

The commander who mishandled the solvent incident was an Army captain and the highest known ranking officer to be disciplined in an abuse case at the outpost, Sumpter said. The company commander is generally in charge of more than 130 soldiers.

After the scandal broke at the US-run Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq where US troops were photographed abusing detainees, military officials at the US Southern Command in Miami told reporters there were three substantiated abuse cases at Guantanamo.

The military last week provided details of eight substantiated cases of abuse by personnel from prison guards to a barber. The information came nearly two months after reporters asked for details of cases in an August report by James Schlesinger, who headed a US congressional committee to investigate abuses in Iraq, Afghanistan and Guantanamo.

"This problem won't be solved by dribbling out bits of information over a period of months. The US government needs to stop hiding behind closed doors and create an independent commission to look into all charges of abuse," said Jumana Musa of Amnesty International.

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