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9 US prison deaths probed as homicides
Updated: 2004-05-22 23:33

Authorities are investigating the deaths of at least nine prisoners in Iraq and Afghanistan that doctors classified as homicides.

In this undated still photo provided by The Washington Post on Friday, May 21, 2004, a hooded Iraqi detainee appears to be cuffed at the ankle chained to a door handle while being made to balance on two boxes at the Abu Ghraib prison on the outskirts of Baghdad. The Washington Post has obtained what it says are hundreds of photographs and short digital videos - as of yet unreleased - depicting U.S. soldiers physically and emotionally abusing detainees last fall in the Abu Ghraib prison. [AP]
The medical findings mean the deaths were linked to the actions of another person; however, that doesn't necessarily mean the deaths were criminal in nature, military officials said Friday.

A 10th prisoner death, also determined a homicide, already has been resolved. Officials said that in September 2003, a soldier shot and killed a prisoner in Iraq who threw rocks at him. The soldier was punished and dismissed from the Army for using excessive force.

The 10 cases are among the most serious probed by the Army's Criminal Investigation Division since August 2002. The Army has looked into at least 37 detainee deaths in Iraq and Afghanistan, a senior military official said Friday, briefing reporters on the condition of anonymity.

There may be more deaths outside the Army's purview, the official acknowledged.

The nine prisoner homicides apparently under investigation:

_Abdul Jaleel, 46, who died Jan. 9, 2004, at Forward Operating Base Rifles near Al Asad, Iraq. He died of "blunt force injuries and asphyxia."

_Maj. Gen. Abed Hamed Mowhoush, a former commander of Saddam Hussein's air defenses, who died Nov. 26, 2003, during interrogation at Qaim, Iraq. His death may have involved a CIA officer who is an interrogator. Doctors attributed his death to "asphyxia due to smothering and chest compression."

_Manadel Al-Jamadi, who was being held at Abu Ghraib, the Iraqi prison in which the well-known abuse of prisoners took place. He died Nov. 4, 2003, of "blunt force injuries complicated by compromised respiration," doctors said. Two CIA personnel, an officer and a contract translator, were present when he died. The agency and Justice Department are investigating.

_Abdul Wali, a prisoner at Asadabad, Afghanistan, who died June 21, 2003. The CIA's inspector general is conducting an inquiry into this death; it is unclear whether the Army still is.

_Dilar Dababa, who was being held near Baghdad. He died June 13, 2003, of what doctors determined was a head injury.

_An Afghan listed only as Dilawar, 22, held at Bagram, who died Dec. 10, 2002. Doctors attributed his death to "blunt force injuries to lower extremities complicating coronary artery disease."

_Mullah Habibullah, about 28, an Afghan held at Bagram, who died Dec. 3, 2002. Doctors attributed his death to "pulmonary embolism due to blunt force injuries to the legs."

_Two additional deaths of unidentified prisoners, at least one of which occurred in Iraq.

In addition to those, investigators determined that at least eight more deaths at prisons in Iraq were justifiable homicides. These were in four incidents at prisons in Iraq, in which a soldier had reason to use deadly force on a dangerously violent or fleeing prisoner, officials said.

The deaths of 15 more prisoners were attributed to natural causes.

The senior official also described three more deaths that took place outside U.S. detention facilities and remain under investigation.

One involved a soldier who shot and killed an Afghan who had lunged toward a weapon, the official said. Another was an Iraqi who drowned after a U.S. soldier forced him off a bridge.

In a third case, a soldier shot and killed an Iraqi when he lunged at another soldier, the official said.

The Pentagon released military death certificates Friday that also attribute two more deaths to "medical homicide," indicating that the person died in connection with the actions or influence of another person. It does not necessarily mean a crime occurred. It was unclear whether these deaths are being criminally investigated.

They are:

_Fahin Ali Gumaa, 44, who died in Baghdad on April 28, 2004, several days after suffering multiple gunshot wounds.

_Abdul Wahid, who died Nov. 6, 2003, in Helmand province, Afghanistan. His death is attributed to multiple blunt force injuries which were complicated by a muscle condition.

The military also released the death certificate of prisoner Nagem Sadoon Hatab, a 52-year-old former Baath Party official. He died June 6, 2003, when a Marine grabbed him by the neck, snapping a bone and mortally injuring him. Investigators believed it was accidental, but two of the Marine's superiors face charges in connection with Hatab's treatment.

Also, for the first time Friday, the Justice Department acknowledged it has opened a criminal investigation into allegations of Iraqi prisoner abuse. Spokesman Mark Corallo said the probe involved an unidentified civilian contractor working for the Pentagon. It was unclear if that case involved a death.

Justice can prosecute contractors for crimes committed overseas, including torture, if they are not already under military jurisdiction.

The department also has received at least three referrals for possible prosecution from the CIA that are related to prisoner abuse allegations. However, the department has not announced a full criminal investigation into those cases.

Pentagon spokesman Bryan Whitman said officials have more records to examine, so the number of cases could rise.

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