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US military to abandon Abu Ghraib

The US military plans to transfer all detainees from the prison and return the facility to the Iraqi government.

india Updated: Mar 10, 2006 13:37 IST

The US military plans to transfer all detainees from the notorious Abu Ghraib prison and return the facility to the Iraqi government, said a military spokesman.

The US military hopes to complete the move of the roughly 4,500 detainees to a new prison, under construction in Baghdad within three months, Lieutenant Colonel Keir-Kevin Curry said.

Abu Ghraib triggered worldwide outrage after the US-led invasion of Iraq, when photographs emerged in April 2004 of American guards humiliating and abusing Iraqi detainees.

Abu Ghraib was known as a torture centre under Saddam Hussein's regime and became a detention facility for the US after the March 2003 invasion of Iraq.

Abu Ghraib, which lies outside Baghdad, currently holds 4,537 US detainees, stated Curry.

US Army reservist Charles Graner received a 10-year prison sentence last year for his role as ringleader of the abuse at Abu Ghraib. A co-conspirator, Lynndie England, also a reservist and the mother of Graner's child, got a three-year term.

Seven other soldiers also were charged with crimes by the US military regarding the Abu Ghraib abuse.

The scandal provoked worldwide outrage and badly damaged the image of the US as a promoter of human rights. President George W Bush and Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, who faced calls to resign, had apologised for the mistreatment.

The Pentagon had quietly launched an investigation into the abuse months before the photographs emerged on American television. One of the photos showed Graner beating a detainee and another depicted England holding a naked Iraqi detainee on a leash.

The scandal had raised concerns about abuse by the US military of detainees in Afghanistan and at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, where about 500 detainees are held in the war on terror. It also set off debate over what techniques interrogators were allowed to use while questioning prisoners.

The scandal contributed to US legislation last year that explicitly banned the torture of detainees, although the Bush administration had argued that the handling of prisoners was consistent with US and international law.

First Published: Mar 10, 2006 13:37 IST