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US discharges troops for abuse in Iraq
( 2004-01-06 10:27) (Agencies)

The U.S. Army discharged three soldiers for abusing prisoners at a detention center in Iraq, a U.S. military spokesman said Monday.

The three soldiers, all from Pennsylvania, were scheduled to face courts-martial this month but opted instead to submit to a nonjudicial hearing, in which their conduct was judged by a commander without a jury, Lt. Col. Vic Harris said. Such hearings are common practice, he said.

Brig. Gen. Ennis Whitehead III, the acting commander of the 143rd Transportation Command, found the three soldiers had maltreated prisoners at Camp Bucca, southern Iraq, on May 12. He demoted two of the soldiers and ordered that all three forfeit their salaries for two months.

The general found that Master Sgt. Lisa Marie Girman, 35, of Hazelton, Pa., knocked a prisoner to the ground, "repeatedly kicking him in the groin, abdomen, and head, and encouraging her subordinate soldiers to do the same," Harris said.

Girman received an "other-than-honorable conditions" discharge from her immediate commander.

Staff Sgt. Scott A. McKenzie, 38, of Clearfield, Pa., was found to have dragged a prisoner by his shoulders and then to have held his legs apart "and encouraging others to kick him in the groin while other U.S. soldiers kicked him in the abdomen and head," Harris said.

McKenzie was also found to have thrown the detainee face-down to the ground and have stepped on "his previously injured arm."

The general also found McKenzie made "a false sworn statement to a special agent of the U.S. Army Criminal Investigation Division."

McKenzie was demoted to sergeant and later received a "general, under honorable conditions" discharge.

Spc. Timothy F. Canjar, 21, of Moscow, Pa., was found to have made a false statement to the army's criminal investigators and to have held a detainee's legs apart "while others kicked him in the groin," in addition to "violently twisting his previously injured arm and causing him to scream in pain."

Canjar was demoted to private a rank two lower than specialist and received a "general, under honorable conditions" discharge from his commander, Harris said.

The findings were handed down at Camp Arifjan in Kuwait on Dec. 29. The three soldiers have now returned to the United States.

A fourth soldier was charged in the same case, but Sgt. Shawna Edmondson, 24, requested and received an "other-than-honorable" discharge from the military last year rather than face a court-martial.

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