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Six US soldiers face charges of prisoner abuse

Latest update : 2008-08-15

Six US sailors working at Camp Bucca, a prisoner camp in southern Iraq, face courts martial on charges of abusing detainees with pepper spray, the use of which is banned by international treaties on chemical weapons.

BAGHDAD, Aug 14 (Reuters) - Six sailors working as prison
camp guards in Iraq face courts martial for abusing detainees,
some of whom were sealed in a cell with pepper spray, the U.S.
Navy said on Thursday.
 

Seven other sailors were given non-judicial punishments over
the incident, which took place on May 14 at Camp Bucca, the vast
desert camp in southern Iraq where the U.S. military houses
18,000 of its 21,000 prisoners.
 

"Two detainees suffered minor abrasions as a result of the
alleged assaults, eight others were confined overnight in a
detainee housing unit which was sprayed with riot control agent
and then the ventilation secured," the Navy said in a statement.
 

Navy Fifth Fleet spokeswoman Commander Jane Campbell said
the riot control agent was pepper spray. None of the victims
required medical attention apart from the two who were beaten,
she said.
 

"The day that this all took place there had actually been
some unrest at the camp. There had been some detainee-on-guard
issues, which ranged from spitting to throwing bodily functions
at some guards," she said.
 

The six facing courts martial have remained with their unit
at the prison camp but were removed from duty: "They are no
longer doing the mission of guards," Campbell said.
 

The courts martial will begin at Camp Bucca within the next
30 days.
 

The seven guards already subjected to the less-severe system
of non-judicial punishment had mainly faced accusations that
they failed to report the incident, rather than being accused of
taking part themselves, she said.
 

Two had their charges dismissed and the rest were given
reductions in rank, with some also docked pay or confined to
base for 45 days.
 

Use of pepper spray in warfare is banned by international
treaties on chemical weapons, but many governments say members
of their armed forces are permitted to use it in war zones for
law-enforcement duties.

Date created : 2008-08-15

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