Officer recounts Abu Gharib horror

Published on Jan 28, 2006 12:29 AM IST

The Abu Ghraib prison scandal in Iraq,which invited a media blitzkrieg against the US and scathing criticism from human rights groups, is still fresh in the minds of the people, and those who were in Iraq during that period have even more vivid memories

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The Abu Ghraib prison scandal in Iraq,which invited a media blitzkrieg against the US and scathing criticism from human rights groups, is still fresh in the minds of the people, and those who were in Iraq during that period have even more vivid memories .

Public Relations Officer in the US Army, Specialist E4 Victor Gardner served one year in the department of public relations with the US Army in Iraq, when the controversy had attained a global dimension and was at its peak. "After coming from Iraq, I could not forget for days the horror that took place in the prison," said Gardner.  Gardner is a member of the US Army contingent that came to Ranikhet  for the joint Indo-US military exercise. There were other ways to treat prisoners, he said and added that the US soldiers involved in perpetuating the brutal acts had been punished for their misdeeds.

It may be recalled that the detainees in Abu Ghraib prison were tortured and abused by the American military personnel. An internal criminal investigation by the United States Army commenced in January, 2004 and subsequently reports of the abuse, as well as graphic pictures showing American military personnel in the act of abusing prisoners, drew public attention the following April.

Seventeen soldiers and officers were fired and seven soldiers were charged with dereliction of duty, maltreatment, aggravated assault and battery.

Between May, 2004 and September 2005, seven soldiers were convicted in court martials, sentenced to prison and unceremoniously discharged from service, while two soldiers received 10-year and three-years prison sentences, respectively. Specialist E4 recalled that the act evoked worldwide protest. "But the guilty have been punished," he reiterated. However, he said in general the Iraqis were a friendly people. Regarding the stand of the media on Iraq, Gardner felt that the media was not against the US Army, but against the policy of the US Government for attacking Iraq.

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