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Widespread Mistreatment

WASHINGTON (Reuters) -

May 26, 2004

A U.S. Army synopsis of deaths and mistreatment involving prisoners in American custody in Iraq (news - web sites) and Afghanistan (news - web sites) shows a pattern of abuse involving more military units than previously known, The New York Times reported on Wednesday.

The summary, dated May 5, was prepared by the Criminal Investigation Command at the request of Army officials, according to the newspaper.

It outlines the status of investigations into 36 cases, including the continuing probe into the abuses at Abu Ghraib prison on the outskirts of Baghdad, the paper said.

The Iraq cases date back to April 2003, the Times reported. In an incident reported to have taken place last month, a prisoner detained by Navy commandos died in a suspected case of homicide blamed on "blunt force trauma to the torso and positional asphyxia," the paper said.

The U.S. forces' treatment of prisoners has come under scrutiny because of revelations about the physical and sexual abuse of Iraqi inmates at the Abu Ghraib prison. Seven U.S. soldiers have been charged with abusing Iraqi prisoners there.

In a speech on Tuesday, President Bush (news - web sites) said the prison "became a symbol of disgraceful conduct by a few American troops who dishonored our country and disregarded our values," and said the notorious prison would be demolished as a "symbol of Iraq's new beginning."

One of the oldest cases listed in the May 5 document involves the death of a prisoner in Afghanistan in December 2002, the paper said.

The document said enlisted personnel from a military intelligence unit at Fort Bragg, North Carolina, and an Army Reserve military-police unit from Ohio are thought to have been "involved at various times in assaulting and mistreating the detainee," according to the Times.

Members of the 223rd Military Intelligence Battalion, which is part of the California National Guard, were accused of abusing Iraqi detainees last spring in Samarra, north of Baghdad, the Times reported.

The Army summary said the unidentified enlisted personnel "forced into asphyxiations numerous detainees in an attempt to obtain information" over a 10-week period, according to the paper.



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