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Last Updated: Tuesday, 21 March 2006, 22:17 GMT
US soldier abused Iraq prisoners
US Army Sgt Michael Smith. File photo
Smith is the 10th soldier to be convicted over Abu Ghraib
A US army dog handler has been found guilty of abusing detainees in Iraq's Abu Ghraib prison in 2003-2004.

A Maryland court martial convicted Sgt Michael Smith on six out of 13 charges including maltreating detainees, dereliction of duty and assault.

Prosecutors said Smith, 24, used his black Belgian shepherd to menace prisoners for his own amusement. He will be sentenced on Wednesday.

He is the 10th US soldier to be convicted over the abuse scandal.

In one case, prosecutors at the court martial in Fort Meade said Smith competed with another dog handler to see who could make a detainee defecate out of fear.

Picture from SBS TV in Australia, showing dog and Abu Ghraib prisoner
Images of abuses at Abu Ghraib prison shocked the world
One of the photographs to emerge from Abu Ghraib prison depicts Smith holding his dog inches from the face of a detainee who appears to be cowering in terror.

The prosecution said he had violated rules on treating prisoners humanely and using the minimum amount of force.

The defence had argued that rules governing the use of dogs were unclear. They said Smith was a good soldier who had done what he was supposed to do by having his dog bark at prisoners in what it described as dangerous environment.

The military jury announced its verdict after deliberating for about 18 hours over a period of three days.

Smith was found guilty under the Uniform Code of Military Justice with two counts of maltreatment, one count of conspiring to make a contest of making detainees soil themselves, dereliction of duty, assault and an indecent act.

The judge later dismissed one of the counts, saying it duplicated another.

Nine other soldiers have been convicted of abusing prisoners at Abu Ghraib. Charles Graner received the stiffest sentence - 10 years in jail.

Another dog handler, Sgt Santos Cardona, is to stand trial on 22 May.


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