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UK soldiers jailed over Iraq abuse

Gen. Sir Mike Jackson apologized to the Iraqi people after the sentences were handed down Friday.
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A military court sentences three British soldiers to prison for abusing Iraqi detainees.
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OSNABRUECK, Germany (CNN) -- A military court has sentenced three British soldiers to prison for abusing Iraqi detainees in southern Iraq.

The May 2003 incident near Basra sparked outrage after photographs of the abuse were released.

Lance Cpl. Mark Cooley, 25, received the maximum two-year sentence; Cpl. Daniel Kenyon, 33, received 18 months; and Lance Cpl. Darren Larkin, 30, received five months instead of the maximum six months.

Cooley appeared in photos hoisting a prisoner on a forklift while he simulated punching a detainee. Larkin, who pleaded guilty, was photographed standing on an Iraqi who was bound.

Kenyon also pleaded guilty of aiding and abetting in the beating of a detainee, as well as failing to report the abuses.

All three were dishonorably discharged and showed no emotion after the judge on Friday announced the sentences, which followed a five-week trial.

"What you did was not done to discourage looters, but for the key reason of producing trophy photos," said deputy judge advocate Gen. Michael Hunter, who presided over the case.

After the sentences were announced, the head of the British Army, General Sir Mike Jackson, apologized to the Iraqi people at a press conference at the Ministry of Defence in London.

"I do apologize on behalf of the Army to those Iraqis who were abused and to the people of Iraq as a whole," Jackson said.

The Iraqis in the soldiers' custody had been accused of looting a humanitarian aid warehouse in May 2003.

The three soldiers were to spend Friday night in military lock-up before being flown to Britain on Saturday to serve their sentences in civilian jails.

Photographs, including humiliating sexual images of naked Iraqis, were taken by another soldier, Gary Bartlam, 20, who then took them to be developed at a shop in his hometown of Tamworth, Staffordshire, where an assistant called in police.

At a separate court-martial last month in Hohne, Germany, Bartlam was ordered to be detained at a youth detention facility for 18 months and disgracefully discharged from the army.

The judge in charge of the courts-martial said the men's "brutal," "cruel" and "revolting" behavior had "undoubtedly tarnished the international reputation of the British Army and to some extent the British nation too."

Meanwhile, British defense officials are investigating accounts given by five men who claim to be the victims of the abuse scandal in Iraq.

The Independent and Daily Mail newspapers tracked down the five men, who say they are the prisoners who appeared in the "trophy" photographs taken by Bartlam.

The Daily Mail said the men planned to sue the British government over their ordeal.

However, a UK Ministry of Defence spokesman told CNN the organization mounted a through investigation at the time and the men had not come forward.

"We cannot speculate on the reasons for this," the spokesman said.

The five Iraqi men told the newspapers they did not know that a court martial over abuse against them was taking place and had not been contacted about the case. They gave details of the abuse and their injuries and said they were willing to be checked by British doctors.

None of the victims gave evidence during the trial, which the Royal Military Police said was because officers were unable to trace the men.

However, the newspapers said they found the men living about a mile from the camp within days.

A Ministry of Defence statement said: "The information in the articles is not being ignored. The Special Investigations Branch of the Royal Military Police is reviewing the material and has instigated an investigation which will look at the allegations and act on any substantive evidence."

However, the spokesman told CNN that "timely and extensive" inquiries had been carried out through humanitarian groups, police, local employers and recreation groups, and no one had come forward.

-- CNN Berlin Bureau Chief Chris Burns contributed to this report

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