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Documents show probes of other Iraq abuse cases
Updated: 2004-12-15 14:13

Internal US Navy documents released as a result of a court order show that the Navy investigated a number of alleged abuses of Iraqi prisoners by US Marines, including an alleged mock execution of four Iraqi juveniles.

The documents, which were obtained by the American Civil Liberties Union, show that marines were punished in some instances while other cases were closed after preliminary investigations concluded the allegations could not be substantiated.

A spread sheet showing the disposition of detainee abuse cases investigated by the Naval Criminal Investigative Services (NCIS) said the alleged mock execution was one of several incidents involving four marine suspects in Adiwaniya, Iraq between June 1 and July 6, 2003.

They were alleged to have "ordered four juvenile looters to kneel beside two shallow fighting holes and pistol was discharged to conduct a mock execution," the document said.

Two suspects were found guilty of dereliction of duty and sentenced to 30 days of hard labor, while another was reduced in rank, forfeited two-thirds pay for a month and placed under unspecified restriction for 14 days after being found guilty of detainee abuse.

Charges against the fourth were withdrawn, according to the document.

Another entry shows that five marines were alleged to have taken part in shocking a detainee with an electric transformer at a holding area at Al Mamudiyah in April 2004.

An unidentified witness reported that "the detainee 'danced' as he was shocked," according to the document.

A general court martial in May 2004 found one marine guilty of "assault, cruelty and mistreatment, dereliction of duty and conspiracy to assault a detainee," the document said. He was sentenced to a year in prison.

Another marine was sentenced to eight months in prison in the case after being found guilty of similar charges by a special court martial. Three other special court martials were pending, according to the document.

In another case in Al Mamudiyah in August 2004, a detainee suffered second degree burns on the back of his hands.

The document said the detainee asked to use alcohol-based hand sanitizer liquid during a bathroom visit. A marine guard squirted some into the detainee's hands, but the excess formed a puddle on the floor.

"As the marine guard turned to dispose of the empty bottle, (the accused marine) lit a match and threw it into the puddle of hand sanitizer. The liquid ignited and the flames burned the detainee," it said.

The unidentified marine was found guilty of "assault by means likely to produce death or grievous bodily harm," and sentenced to 90 days confinement and a reduction in rank.

In another case cited in the documents, a marine guard shot and killed a detainee identified as Hamdan Shibey on March 29, 2003.

"The investigation determined that the detainee attacked the marine guard and the guard acted in self-defense when he shot the detainee that was lunging for the guard's service rifle," the document said.

The ACLU said the documents showed that abuse and even torture of detainees by marines was widespread.

"This kind of widespread abuse could not have taken place without a leadership failure of the highest order," said Anthony Romero, ACLU's executive director.

Pentagon spokesman Lawrence DiRita said he had no information on the cases cited in the documents, which have not been previously disclosed.

He denied criticism by human rights groups that the military often investigated abuses only after they had come under media scrutiny.

"Many of the cases that are being celebrated have had disposition already made," he said. "And there may be a desire that disposition when it's made be publicized, but that's a different thing from saying that we're reacting to publicity."

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