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Iraq prisoners sealed in pepper-spray cell

Iraq prisoners sealed in pepper-spray cell

Herald Sun
August 15, 2008

SIX American 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 US Navy said 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 US 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,” Commander 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.

 


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