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Archive for Saturday, May 8, 2004

Red Cross warned of abuse last year

May 8, 2004

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— The Red Cross said Friday that it had been warning of prisoner abuse in Iraq since shortly after the U.S.-led invasion. U.S. administrator L. Paul Bremer said he first became aware of the allegations in January.

U.S. officials insist the abuse of prisoners at Abu Ghraib prison was limited and did not reflect policy.

However, the International Committee of the Red Cross said it warned American officials of prisoner abuse in Iraq more than a year ago and that the mistreatment was "not individual acts."

"There was a pattern and a system," Pierre Kraehenbuehl, the ICRC's director of operations, said in Geneva. Some of the actions were "tantamount to torture," he said.

The findings were "discussed at different moments between March and November 2003, either in direct face-to-face conversations or in written interventions," Kraehenbuehl said.

Some of the earlier discussions were with Brig. Gen. Janis Karpinski, commander of the 800th Military Police Brigade overseeing the prison.

Karpinski has been suspended by the military as part of its probe into the abuses.

In February, ICRC officials discussed a report on the subject with Bremer and Lt. Gen. Ricardo Sanchez, the commander of U.S. forces in Iraq, Kraehenbuehl said.

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