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US Unit Says Gave Earlier Report of Iraq Abuse

Internal US military documents show an interrogation unit reported mistreatment of detainees at Abu Ghraib prison in November 2003, two months before military officials have said they learned of prisoner abuses, The New York Times reported on Monday.  

The newspaper, citing interviews with military personnel who worked in the prison, said the abuse allegations reported to senior officers included the beatings of five blindfolded Iraqi generals.


"We were reporting it long before this mess came out," the newspaper quoted one of several unidentified military intelligence soldiers interviewed in Germany and the United States as saying.


At least 20 accounts of mistreatment were included in the documents, the newspaper cited military personnel as saying.


Some detainees described abuse at other detention facilities before they were transferred to Abu Ghraib, but at least seven incidents said to be cited in the documents took place at the prison, the newspaper reported.


The abuse allegations were cited by members of the prison's Detainee Assessment Branch, an interrogation unit, in routine weekly reports to military judge advocates and others, the Times said.


The unit's reports were to be sent for final approval to a three-member board that included Brig. Gen. Janis Karpinski, who was in charge of US-run prisons in Iraq during the abuse, and Maj. Gen. Barbara Fast, the top Army intelligence officer in Iraq, the newspaper said.


Military officials in Baghdad acknowledged on Sunday that lawyers on a magistrate board reviewed the reports, but they could not confirm whether Karpinski and Fast had seen them, or whether any action had been taken to investigate the incidents, the Times said.


(China Daily via agencies, June 14, 2004)

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