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New Papers Suggest Detainee Abuse Was Widespread

The documents indicate that the perpetrator, who was investigated on charges of assault and a "law of war violation," was given a nonjudicial punishment by his commander. Threatening detainees with physical harm to compel their testimony is a violation of the Geneva Conventions.

In a second case, Army investigators concluded that a sergeant committed offenses including assault, dereliction of duty and cruelty when he conducted "a mock execution of an Iraqi teenager" in front of the boy's father and brother, who were suspected of looting an ammunition factory. Investigators also found that the actions were condoned by a lieutenant who conspired with the sergeant.


A detainee sleeps in his prison cell at the U.S. Navy base at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. His prosthetic leg is on the floor. (Andres Leighton -- AP)

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An investigative report also details an incident two days earlier, in which the lieutenant ordered a suspected looter to kneel, pointed a 9mm pistol at his head and then pulled the gun away just as he fired a shot. The outcome of both cases is unclear from the records released yesterday.

The documents also divulge a probe of the beatings of three mosque security guards in Baghdad in September 2003. After being arrested and cuffed during a search, the three Iraqis were kicked, stomped and dragged by a group of U.S. soldiers. Five soldiers were given reprimands and reductions in rank after being found guilty of maltreatment of prisoners, assault and other charges, the records show.

In another Baghdad case, a U.S. soldier was accused of trying to force an Iraqi civilian to hold a gun as a justification for killing him. The soldier punched the civilian in the face, held an M-16 rifle to his head and flicked the safety off to threaten him, according to the accounts of 19 witnesses. Another soldier eventually stepped in to protect the civilian, who had been hired by the U.S. Army to guard the Museum of Iraqi Military History, the records show.

Other documents describe the death in 2003 of detainee Abdul Kareem Abdureda Lafta, 44, in a U.S. Army jail in Mosul. He "appeared to be in good health" when taken into custody, and he quickly gained the attention of MPs by continually trying to remove the hood placed on his head and talking when guards told him to be silent, the documents say. One night, Lafta was put to bed with his hands tied behind him. Even so, one guard said he spent much of the night "constantly moving around on the ground" in his cell. In the morning, he was found dead.

A doctor who examined the body told investigators "he did not know what killed him." Another Army document says he was found to have a small laceration on his head. The investigators said "there is no documentation . . . explaining the lack of an autopsy."

In another case, Army investigators found probable cause to court-martial a soldier for shooting to death an Iraqi detainee, Obede Hethere Radad, without warning. But he was punished administratively and discharged.

Khalid Odah, the father of one Guantanamo detainee, said in a telephone interview from Kuwait yesterday that the new revelations make him worry even more about the fate of his son, Fawzi, who was detained by U.S. forces three years ago. "For a very long time, every day, we heard such news but nobody believed us," said Odah, head of the Kuwaiti Family Committee, a group of relatives of Guantanamo detainees. "Now it is coming from inside the government, from the FBI and others. . . . It is very frightening to my family and to other families of Kuwaiti detainees."

U.S. military officials have alleged in legal proceedings that Fawzi Odah is an admitted member of al Qaeda and had connections to the Taliban militia in Afghanistan. Khalid Odah says his son is innocent.

Staff writer John Mintz contributed to this report.


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