Military Accuses Six of Abusing Detainees in Iraq
By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, March 20, 2004 The military is going to prefer charges against six soldiers accused of abusing detainees at the Abu Gharib prison, coalition officials announced today in Baghdad.
Military spokesman Army Brig. Gen. Mark Kimmitt also said the anticipated spike in attacks against coalition targets expected at the March 19 anniversary of the start of military operations in Iraq did not occur.
Kimmitt said the charges against the six personnel are a result of a criminal probe begun in January. The six personnel have been administratively reassigned, pending investigation results. They are being charged with criminal offenses to include conspiracy, dereliction of duty, cruelty and maltreatment, assault and indecent acts with another.
"The coalition takes all reports of detainee abuse seriously and all allegations of mistreatment are investigated, Kimmitt said. "We are committed to treating all persons under coalition control with dignity respect and humanity. Coalition personnel are expected to act appropriately, humanely and in a manner consistent with the Geneva Conventions."
The International Committee of the Red Cross examines the prison and the procedures used there. While the detainees are not prisoners of war, they are treated in accordance with the Geneva Conventions, Kimmitt said.
At the same time the criminal investigation began, Combined Joint Task Force 7 commander Army Lt. Gen. Ricardo Sanchez ordered another investigation to examine the administrative and procedural policies at Abu Gharib. That report has been delivered to Sanchez and details will be released later, Kimmitt said.
The general said over the past week there have been an average of 21 engagements daily against coalition military personnel, just under three attacks daily against Iraqi security forces and just over four attacks against Iraqi civilians. These numbers are in the same range as weeks past, he said.
In Baghdad, Operation Iron Promise continues, Kimmitt said. Since the operation began March 16, 1st Armored Division soldiers had captured 99 enemy personnel, and had confiscated 154 weapons and 75 artillery and rocket rounds. They also confiscated significant quantities of improvised explosive device materials.
In western Iraq, small-arms fire brought down a helicopter. The two pilots are unscathed, and a quick-reaction force secured the area.
Coalition spokesman Dan Senor said the Iraqi Governing Council will name an Iraqi Defense Minister within the next week.