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Soldiers likely to face abuse charges over photos

From Barbara Starr

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Unrest, Conflicts and War
U.S. Army

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Criminal charges are being prepared against six U.S. Army soldiers for alleged abuse of Iraqi detainees at Abu Gharib prison in Baghdad, U.S. military officials told CNN.

The charges are expected to include indecent acts, assault, cruelty, maltreatment, conspiracy, and dereliction of duty.

Multiple sources said the allegations involve soldiers who took photographs of Iraqi prisoners, including pictures that show the prisoners partially clothed or physical contact between soldiers and detainees.

One source said "less than two dozen detainees" were subjected to the alleged abuse, which was reported by U.S. Army soldiers who witnessed it.

Draft charge sheets have been prepared, but it's not clear yet if the charges have been formally filed against the soldiers under the Uniform Code of Military Justice.

Nine additional military personnel and two civilian employees may also be facing severe administrative action, according to U.S. military sources.

Eight of them are expected to receive letters of reprimand that effectively will end their military careers.

A civilian translator and a civilian interrogator are expected to be fired.

The Army's Criminal Investigative Division's investigation concluded there is sufficient evidence to recommend charges. But a final decision will be up to commanders.

A formal announcement is expected in the next few days -- as soon as the paperwork is approved by commanders in the region.

All of the military personnel are believed to be members of the 800th Military Police Brigade, which was guarding Abu Gharib prison until recently.

CNN has previously reported that 17 personnel at the prison were relieved of their duties, including a battalion commander, a company commander, three non-commissioned officers, and 12 military police directly involved in guard duties.

Prisoners held by the United States in Iraq are accorded the rights of dignity and may not be held up to public ridicule under the Geneva Conventions.

A source indicated that taking pictures would be considered criminal activity unless it could be demonstrated it was done for official reasons related to processing and handling of detainees.

The Pentagon official said some computer drives were seized by the CID in the search for the photographs and additional evidence of abuse.

Lt. Gen. Ricardo Sanchez, head of coalition forces in Iraq, has also ordered an investigation to determine whether any problems exist in the chain of command.

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