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Soldiers charged with abusing Iraqi prisoners

From Barbara Starr

The military is investigating potential abuse of detainees by U.S. soldiers at Abu Gharib prison.

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Soldiers charged with abusing Iraqi prisoners

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Six U.S. soldiers have been charged with offenses related to the abuse of Iraqi prisoners at an Iraqi prison, the U.S. Army said Saturday.

The soldiers are charged with assault, dereliction of duty, cruelty and maltreatment, conspiracy and indecent acts with another, U.S. Army spokesman Brig. Gen. Mark Kimmitt said.

All of the military personnel are believed to be members of the 800th Military Police Brigade, which until recently guarded Baghdad's Abu Ghraib prison.

The soldiers, charged with violating the Uniform Code of Military Justice, have been suspended from duty since the investigation began.

Multiple sources said the allegations involve soldiers who took photographs of Iraqi prisoners in late 2003, 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.

Nine more military personnel and two civilian employees may also face 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, the sources said.

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. The final decision was the commander's.

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

Prisoners held by the United States in Iraq are accorded 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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