Army Investigates Wider Iraq Offenses
But 10 other homicides had no such justification. Only one case so far has resulted in disciplinary action, with a soldier being demoted and discharged after shooting a prisoner who was throwing stones at a detention center northwest of Baghdad last Sept. 11. Another homicide case, involving a contractor employed by the CIA, has been turned over to the Justice Department.
Investigations into the other eight homicides remain open amid evidence the dead detainees were assaulted before or during interrogation sessions.
Of the alleged prison assaults that did not result in death, disciplinary action has been reported in two cases. One is the main Abu Ghraib case, in which seven military police reservists have been charged. In the other case, three military intelligence soldiers were alleged to have sexually assaulted a female detainee at Abu Ghraib in October. Investigators failed to confirm the assault, but the three soldiers were faulted for being in the prison's female wing without permission, fined several hundred dollars each and demoted.
Of the 49 cases of alleged misconduct outside detention facilities, three involved deaths, 28 centered on assaults in which soldiers allegedly kicked or punched Iraqi civilians or fired weapons to frighten them, and 18 dealt with thefts that occurred during raids on houses or other operations in Iraq. The theft cases were first reported yesterday by the New York Times.
The three death cases were described briefly by U.S. officials at a Pentagon briefing May 21. In one, a soldier shot and killed an Afghani who had attempted to grab a weapon. In another instance, an Iraqi drowned after being forced off a bridge. In the third case, a U.S. soldier shot an Iraqi who had lunged at a sergeant escorting the Iraqi.
Investigations into 39 of the 49 outside cases have been completed, the senior Army official said.
A large majority of the 91 cases -- 69 of them -- are being handled by the Army's Criminal Investigation Division, which is responsible for probing crimes that may involve Army personnel. As a matter of policy, the organization investigates every death of a detainee in U.S. custody.
To shield their work from command influence, the criminal investigators operate independently of commanders in the field. But their reports then go to the commanders, who are responsible for deciding whether to bring charges, take nonjudicial action or do nothing.
The remaining 22 investigations, all involving allegations of detainee abuse that occurred outside military-run detention centers, have been conducted by other commands that also have authority to initiate probes. These cases have run the gamut from kicking detainees to trying to intimidate them by withholding water if they refused to cooperate, the senior Army official said.
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