Accused soldier gives description of Abu Ghraib brutality.

The first US soldier to face a court martial over the Iraq prison scandal is expected to plead guilty, according to media reports of the investigation which gave new details of the brutality faced by inmates.

Specialist Jeremy Sivits will face a military tribunal next Wednesday and major US newspapers quoted widely from his sworn statements to army investigators about the pictures of mistreatment that have cast a new shadow over the occupation of Iraq.

Sivits, 24, is expected to plead guilty to conspiracy to maltreat detainees, maltreatment and dereliction of duty, as part of a plea bargain in a bid to get leniency, the New York Times, Washington Post and Los Angeles Times said.

He had also agreed to testify against others in the group of seven soldiers who have so far been charged over the abuse at the Abu Ghraib jail near Baghdad.

The US authorities announced Friday that a court martial had been ordered against a fourth member of the group, Specialist Charles Graner, who will face seven charges including assaulting detainees, dereliction of duty and adultery.

Staff Sergeant Ivan Frederick and Sergeant Javal Davis will face a first court martial hearing the day after Sivits.

In statements to army investigators, released to US media by a lawyer for one of the seven, Sivits told how guards joked and mocked naked prisoners, struck and kicked them and forced them to hit one another.

On one night, the soldiers took seven Iraqis from their cells and "tossed them in the middle of the floor", the New York Times quoted the statement as saying. Then one of the soldiers repeatedly ran across the room and jumped onto the pile of detainees.

He alleged in the statements that Frederick forced two detainees to punch each other. In another instance, Graner put a sandbag over an inmate's head and "punched the detainee with a closed fist so hard in the temple that the detainee was knocked unconscious."

Sivits said Graner was always "joking, laughing, pissed off a little, acting like he was enjoying it," the Los Angeles Times quoted one statement as saying.

Sivits also spoke of the role of female soldiers in the abuse, including Private First Class Lynndie England and Specialist Sabrina Harman, who are both seen laughing in pictures that have been released.

England was "laughing at the different stuff that they were having the detainees do." She has said she was ordered to pose in front of the abused inmates.

Sivits said Harman wrote the word "rapist" on the leg of one inmate after she had found out from the processing sheets that he had raped someone.

Lawyers for other of the defendants dismissed the statments however. Paul Bergin, who is defending Davis, said the deposition was "fabricated" and "self-serving", the Washington Post reported.

Guy Womack, who is defending Graner, said Sivits' statement "is of dubious value because he's trading information to try to help himself."

Meanwhile, NBC television on Thursday broadcast a photo that it described as "the first hard evidence of prisoner abuse actually being used as an interrogation technique in Abu Ghraib prison."

NBC said the photo, provided by an attorney for Graner, was taken during an interrogation and shows several naked Iraqi prisoners in a heap on the floor.

"Graner identifies four other soldiers as military intelligence officers in charge of interrogation, and the civilian translator," said the network.

[Soure: Agence France Presse, 14May04]

Tienda de Libros Radio Nizkor On-Line Donations

War in Iraq
small logoThis document has been published on 21May04 by the Equipo Nizkor and Derechos Human Rights. In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, this material is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes.