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INTERNATIONAL: US officer's clearance closes Abu Ghraib case.

A military court acquitted a US Army officer of failing to control lower-ranking soldiers who humiliated and abused detainees at Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq during the autumn of 2003.

But the panel at Fort Meade, Maryland, convicted Lieutenant Colonel Steven Jordan of disobeying a general's order not to talk to others about a subsequent investigation.

Jordan faces a maximum sentence of five years in prison, forfeiture of pay and allowances and dismissal from the armed services.

The jury recessed for the night after deliberating on the sentence for an hour and 15 minutes. Prosecutors recommended that Jordan be reprimanded and fined one month's pay - about pounds 7,400 (pounds 3,700). The defence asked the panel for no punishment.

The verdict effectively closes the military's investigation into a scandal that first came to light with the release of pictures of inmates in painful and humiliating positions that embarrassed the Pentagon and shocked the Muslim world.

The panel absolved Jordan, the only officer charged in the scandal, of responsibility for the actions of 11 soldiers previously convicted for their roles at Abu Ghraib.

The verdict means criminal liability went no higher than Staff Sgt Ivan Frederick, a military police reservist from Buckingham, Virginia, who is serving an eight-year sentence.

The 10-member jury acquitted Jordan of three counts: failing to obey a lawful general order by ordering dogs used for interrogations without higher approval, punishable by up to two years; cruelty and maltreatment for subjecting detainees to forced nudity and intimidation by dogs, punishable by up to one year; and dereliction of a duty to properly train and supervise soldiers in humane interrogation rules, punishable by up to six months.

Attorneys for the government and the defence declined to comment on the verdict.

Jordan, a 51-year-old reservist, stood facing the jury as the panel president, a brigadier general, read the verdict.

Jordan told the panel in a choked, halting voice that he respected its decision and took sole responsibility for his actions.
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Publication:The Birmingham Post (England)
Date:Aug 30, 2007
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