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US soldier details Iraq abuse, to plead quilty
Updated: 2004-05-14 10:17

US guards at the Abu Ghraib prison stripped Iraqi prisoners naked, mocked, struck and kicked them and then "in the crudest of humiliations, forced them to hit each other," the LA Times reported on its Web site on Thursday.

The paper said that Specialist Jeremy Sivits, the first soldier to be put up for court-martial, has told investigators "a harrowing tale" of how guards led by a corporal, Charles Graner, abused the detainees during nightly rounds.

The Times said, in documents it has obtained, Sivits claimed Graner was always "joking, laughing ... acting like he was enjoying it."

Sivits, one of seven military police officers facing charges in the case,will plead guilty at a court-martial proceeding next week, the Washington Post reported on Friday.

Sivits, 24, of Hyndman, PA., admitted in a sworn statement that he photographed the abuse but never reported it, according to the newspaper.

His offer to plead guilty was accepted by the staff judge advocate overseeing his court-martial, according to a memo reviewed by The Washington Post and lawyers representing others charged in the case, the newspaper said. But the paper said it could not be determined to which charge he would plead guilty.

The Times also reported that Sivits' statement implicates
five of the other six soldiers accused of abusing detainees at the prison outside Baghdad.

According to the Times, Sivits said all of the abuse was
done without the knowledge of their superiors in the Army chain of command. "Our command would have slammed us," he said, according to documents quoted by the paper.

"They believe in doing the right thing. If they saw what
was going on, there would be hell to pay." He said Graner
warned him not to say anything, telling him: "You did not see (this)."

Graner's attorney, Houston lawyer Guy Womack, was not
immediately available for comment but has said, according to the Times, that Graner and other soldiers were under pressure by military interrogators to "soften up" the detainees to get intelligence.

According to the Times, Sivits said the soldiers appeared
to be enjoying abusing the prisoners.

Sivits described how inmates were forced to strip and form a human pyramid and how U.S. soldiers jumped on them when they were handcuffed and piled on the floor. He also said Graner hit one man so hard that he fell unconscious and that other soldiers forced naked detainees to masturbate.

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