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Army orders two more Abu Ghraib courts-martial

BAGHDAD, Iraq—The U.S. military ordered courts-martial Wednesday for two more American soldiers accused of abusing naked prisoners at the Abu Ghraib prison, offering graphic new evidence of the debauchery of U.S. jailers.

And for the first time, the military disclosed evidence that seemingly undercuts contentions that military intelligence units had asked military police at Abu Ghraib to "soften up" prisoners. Wednesday's charging documents note that some of the abuse occurred before military police units were reporting to intelligence officials at the jail.

U.S. Army Brig. Gen. Mark Kimmitt, deputy chief of Iraq operations, said more senior American soldiers would likely be punished for the prison scandal, which has tarnished American's human rights record in occupied Iraq.

"We have six soldiers right now that are facing criminal charges, three that are facing court-martial," Kimmitt said. "We have numerous people in the supervisory chain who are going to potentially lose their careers because they failed to check, double-check and do what supervisors are expected to do."

In strict legal jargon laying out alleged crimes, the seven-page charging document released for the reserve soldiers painted a picture of military police debauchery and degradation—apparently all in a single day in November—at the notorious sprawling prison complex outside Baghdad that served as Saddam Hussein's torture center.

The charges offer no motives but describe acts that have been portrayed in a series of photos that already have been leaked to the worldwide media, flashed across American television screens and published in U.S. newspapers.

Charged with violating five counts of the Uniformed Code of Military Justice are Sgt. Javal Davis, 26, of Maryland and Staff Sgt. Ivan L. Frederick II, 37 of Buckingham, Va. No trial date has been set, but commanders have pledged to hold them in Iraq, likely at the building that houses the International Press Center, in Baghdad's so-called Green Zone.

The planned public trials are part of a campaign to try to restore Iraqi confidence in the U.S.-led coalition's invasion, occupation and attempt to create a democracy in Iraq even as photographic evidence of abuse has prompted an international human rights outcry.

The charge sheets also spell out for the first time when the abuses captured in some photos were alleged to have occurred—"on or about Nov. 8"—about two weeks before the military police unit was assigned to do missions and tasks for interrogators at Abu Ghraib.

The timeline may be significant for ongoing military investigations, which are probing why commanders failed to stop the abuses or recognize that they were taking place.

Until Nov. 19, the guards' 372 Military Police Company didn't answer to interrogators at Abu Ghraib. Even afterward, Kimmitt said Wednesday, they were commanded by the 800th Military Police Brigade, led by Brig. Gen. Janis Karpinski. But Karpinski has said in news interviews that she was unaware of the abuses at the time because her military police were answering to a Military Intelligence unit made up of soldiers and civilian contractors at Abu Ghraib.

The consolidation order also has been controversial because it was part of a series of recommendations by Maj. Gen. Geoffrey Miller, now in charge of all U.S.-run prisons in Iraq, to have closer cooperation between the guards and interrogators at Abu Ghraib to get better intelligence from prisoners.

Frederick, the most senior soldier charged so far, appears in the documents to have directed and participated in the widest range of crimes—from allegedly stacking nude prisoners in a pyramid to posing for a picture sitting atop a prisoner who was bound and stuffed between two hospital stretchers.

The charging documents also allege that Frederick:

_Participated in the hooding of a prisoner, who, with wires connected to his hands, was made to stand precariously on a cardboard military rations box and told he would be electrocuted if he fell off it.

_Ordered prisoners to masturbate in front of other prisoners, then placed one in a position that suggested he was giving oral sex to another prisoner, then photographed the acts.

_Ordered two detainees to fight and stomped several detainees' hands and feet.

_Watched with two female guards also implicated in the pornographic photo scandal while other soldiers took pictures of prisoners masturbating, or attempting to masturbate, in a public corridor of Abu Ghraib.

Frederick is charged with conspiracy to maltreat detainees, dereliction of duty for negligibly failing to protect detainees from abuse, maltreatment of detainees and wrongfully committing an indecent act by watching detainees commit a sexual act, Kimmitt said.

Davis is charged with conspiracy to maltreat detainees, dereliction of duty for failing to protect detainees from abuse, maltreatment of detainees, rendering false official statements and assault.

The charge sheets also give for the first time the pay of the soldiers.

Accused photographer Spc. Jeremy C. Sivits, 24, of Hyndman, Pa., makes $1,914 a month, including a $100 bonus for overseas duty, or on average $63.80 a day. He faces the first court-martial in the case, scheduled for May 19.

Davis earns $2,230.60 in Iraq, or $74.35 a day. Frederick gets $2,909.80 a month, $96.99 a day.

Among other things, conviction of the crimes could cut their pay by two-thirds, military officials say. They said other punishment, including possible prison time or dishonorable discharge, would be spelled out only after conviction.


(Rosenberg reports for the Miami Herald.)


(c) 2004, Knight Ridder/Tribune Information Services.