Coalition Condemns Prisoner Abuse
By Donna Miles
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, April 28, 2004 Six soldiers to be tried for abusing detainees at a Baghdad prison fall far short of representing their military comrades who are serving honorably at the facility, a coalition spokesman told reporters in Baghdad today.
"This does not reflect the vast majority of coalition soldiers, the vast majority of American soldiers, who are operating at Abu Gharib prison," said Army Brig. Gen. Mark Kimmitt, deputy operations officer for Combined Joint Task Force 7. "Understand that a very, very small number were involved in this incident and of the hundred and hundreds of guards that they have out there, a small number were involved."
The six soldiers were charged with criminal offenses to include conspiracy, dereliction of duty, cruelty and maltreatment, assault and indecent acts with another for activities at the Abu Gharib prison, Kimmitt told reporters in March.
"I am not going to stand here and make excuses for these soldiers. I am not going to stand here and apologize for these soldiers," he said during today's Baghdad press briefing. "If what they did is proven in a court of law, it is incompatible with the values we stand for as a professional military force and the values we stand for as human beings."
Army officials launched an investigation after a soldier assigned to the facility stepped forward to report the mistreatment of prisoners by some guards and interrogators at the facility, Kimmitt said.
Kimmitt said Army Lt. Gen. Ricardo Sanchez, CJTF 7 commander, requested a separate administrative investigation into "systemic issues" such as command policies and internal procedures related to detention operations. Now that the investigation is complete, Sanchez directed a follow-up investigation of interrogation procedures at detention facilities. That investigation continues, Kimmitt said.
The coalition takes all reports of detainee abuse seriously and investigates all allegations of mistreatment," he said. "We are committed to treating all persons under coalition custody with dignity and respect and humanity. Coalition personnel are expected to act appropriately, humanely and in a manner consistent with Geneva Conventions."