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Last Updated: Saturday, 11 September, 2004, 12:57 GMT 13:57 UK
US soldier jailed for Iraq abuses
Court sketch of Specialist Armin J Cruz's trial
Cruz broke down during his trial
A US court martial in Baghdad has sentenced a soldier to eight months in jail for maltreating and conspiring to maltreat Iraqi detainees.

Specialist Armin J Cruz had confessed to forcing three naked inmates at Abu Ghraib jail to crawl along a floor before making them simulate sex acts.

Cruz, 24, was spotted in a photo taken during abuses committed in October.

He is the eighth American soldier to be charged over the abuses but the first from military intelligence.

In addition to the jail sentence - four months short of the maximum term - the court reduced Cruz to the rank of private and gave him a bad conduct discharge.

Cruz is filing an appeal against the sentence.

'Remorseful'

At the trial, Cruz testified that he had gone to a cell in the prison one night in October and ordered the prisoners to be stripped and then took part in actual abuse.

The prosecution said the actions of Cruz and others tarnished the image of the US army and of the nation and would make future enemies readier to fight them.

But the defence called him an American hero who had made one mistake.

Lawyer Stephen Karns said earlier his client took "full responsibility" for his actions and was "extremely remorseful [with] great sympathy for those who have suffered abuse in the prison".

The US has tried to transform Abu Ghraib since the scandal but questions remain as to how high up the chain of command the abuses were sanctioned, the BBC's Mike Donkin reports from Iraq.

And many Iraqis are unimpressed by the way they say the Americans are judging their own for the Abu Ghraib abuses, he says.

Inquiry calls

The abuses at Abu Ghraib caused outrage around the world when photographs were made public.

The seven others indicted are military police soldiers. One of them, Private Jeremy Sivits, pleaded guilty at a special court martial held in Baghdad in May and was sentenced to a year in prison and other penalties.

Our correspondent says that prisoners now have better conditions and, the army says, interrogation techniques based on fear and degradation are banned.

FAY REPORT
27 military intelligence personnel accused
8 personnel knew of abuse but did not act
Senior commanders at fault
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But most of the 2,700 men detained in Abu Ghraib have been there for months without being charged and can be held indefinitely if considered a security threat.

Iraqis believe sentences, like Cruz's, are so low as to be insulting and they, along with international human rights campaigners, want a full independent inquiry, our correspondent says.

That, they say, should pursue the real story of the events at Abu Ghraib right up the chain of command.

Two US public reports - Schlesinger and Fay - were released this summer. The Fay report found 44 incidents of abuse at Abu Ghraib.

Both reports lay most of the blame for what went on in Abu Ghraib at the feet of the soldiers involved and their local commanders but they also suggest that higher authorities were aware of abuses.


WATCH AND LISTEN
The BBC's Caroline Hawley
"Conditions have improved since the scandal came to light"



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