[an error occurred while processing this directive]
BBC News
watch One-Minute World News
Languages
Last Updated: Tuesday, 28 August 2007, 22:54 GMT 23:54 UK
US officer cleared of Iraq abuse
Lt-Col Steven Jordan
Lt-Col Steven Jordan had pleaded innocent to all the charges
A US Army officer has been cleared of charges relating to abuse at Abu Ghraib prison but found guilty of disobeying an order not to discuss the inquiry.

Lt-Col Steven Jordan, the only officer to be charged over the Iraq jail abuse scandal, had been accused of cruelty to detainees and dereliction of duty.

The inquiry was triggered by pictures of US soldiers humiliating and abusing Iraqi prisoners in 2003 and 2004.

Lt-Col Jordan, 51, had pleaded innocent to all charges at his court martial.

At his sentencing hearing on Tuesday, the jury deliberated for more than an hour before being sent home for the night.

Lt-Col Jordan faces a maximum five-year jail term, forfeiture of pay and allowances and dismissal from the armed services.

'No control'

Following his conviction, an emotional Lt-Col Jordan told the panel of judges he respected its decision and took sole responsibility for his actions.

"I know upon receiving an order ... it's my job to get it done," he said.

Naked detainees at Abu Ghraib with bags placed over their heads placed into a human pyramid (01/05/04)

"When I first saw the photographs ... I was shocked and I was sad. It did not represent the United States soldiers I know and love."

Lt-Col Jordan was in charge of the Joint Interrogation and Debriefing Centre at Baghdad's Abu Ghraib prison during the second half of 2003.

He has been found guilty of disobeying an order not to discuss the investigation into the abuse scandal with others, which carries a potential penalty of five years in prison.

However, he has been acquitted of illegally approving the use of nudity and dogs in interrogations of Iraqi prisoners and of dereliction of duty.

In closing arguments, Lt-Col Jordan's defence argued that although he was nominally in charge of the interrogation centre, he did not have direct control over the interrogations.

"It is tempting to say that some officer must be held responsible. But not this officer," said defence lawyer Major Kris Poppe, quoted by AFP news agency.

"You cannot stop somebody from doing something criminal if you're not there and you don't know about it."

The prosecution contended that he had fostered a climate conducive to abuse by divorcing himself from the training and supervision of the soldiers under his command.

Two more charges against Lt-Col Jordan were dismissed on a technicality when the court martial opened last week.

Soldiers jailed

The issue of Abu Ghraib came to light in April 2004 after images emerged of US troops abusing prisoners. The footage included naked prisoners placed in humiliating positions and detainees cowering from aggressive dogs.

Lt-Col Jordan did not appear in any of those photographs.

Eleven soldiers have been convicted of carrying out abuses at Abu Ghraib prison.

They include Specialist Charles Graner Jr, who was sentenced in 2005 to 10 years in prison on counts including assault, maltreatment and indecent acts.

Private Lynndie England, who was photographed holding a naked Iraqi prisoner by a leash and pointing to a naked inmate's genitals, was jailed for three years in 2005.

Janis Karpinski, the prison commander in Iraq at the time of the Abu Ghraib scandal, was demoted from the rank of general but was not charged.

Critics have questioned why no-one further up the chain of command in the US military or the Bush administration has been held responsible for the abuse.




FEATURES, VIEWS, ANALYSIS
Has China's housing bubble burst?
How the world's oldest clove tree defied an empire
Why Royal Ballet principal Sergei Polunin quit

PRODUCTS & SERVICES

Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific