Thu, Dec 23, 2004 - Page 7 News List

Documents show abuse not probed

IRAQI PRISONERS Files released by the US department of defense show that killings of some Iraqi detainees have not been fully investigated


Documents made public on Tuesday in connection with a lawsuit about abuses by military personnel in Iraq suggest that some killings of prisoners may not have been investigated thoroughly.

One set of documents, among many released by the US Defense Department to the American Civil Liberties Union, which brought the lawsuit, shows that in one instance an Army specialist shot and killed an Iraqi prisoner in Tikrit on Aug. 8 last year. The Army's criminal investigation division determined there was probable cause to charge the soldier with murder, according to one investigative report.

Instead, the soldier, whose name was deleted from the documents, was demoted and discharged but did not face a murder charge or court-martial.

The documents, the latest in a series recently disclosed by the ACLU, tell how the prisoner had been verbally harassing guards and "fiddling" with his plastic handcuffs, and said the soldier shot him because the prisoner leaned over the concertina wire, in defiance of orders.

Investigators said that the guards were supposed to use warnings and graduated degrees of force before shooting to kill, and that breaking those rules justified a charge of murder. But the case appeared to be mishandled in several ways, including a failure to properly warn the soldier of his rights before he gave his statement.

Scott McClellan, White House press secretary, responded on Tuesday to other disclosures made earlier by the civil liberties union by saying that all such cases needed to be fully investigated.

"The president expects that any allegations of abuse are taken seriously and fully investigated and the corrective measures are taken to make sure that abuse does not occur again," he told reporters.

* The new information was released in connection with a prisoner abuse lawsuit

* In one case, a criminal investigation into the killing of an Iraqi prisoner found cause for murder charges, but instead the soldier was demoted and discharged

* In another incident, 10 soldiers charged with abusing Iraqi prisoners were reduced in rank and discharged

* Some incidents involved shootings that investigators found to be justifiable

While previous news accounts have made it clear that some prisoners' deaths were not fully investigated, and that some certificates of death from natural causes were issued without autopsies, the new documents offer more detail about some of the killings of prisoners investigated as possible homicides.

Some documents released on Tuesday involved shootings that investigators deemed justifiable.

Others appear to describe events that had not been publicized before, including an incident in February in which 10 soldiers were charged with abusing 44 Iraqi prisoners who were being escorted to a detention center in Umm Qasr. Four of the soldiers were reduced in rank and received administrative discharges.

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