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Last Updated: Sunday, 9 May, 2004, 14:38 GMT 15:38 UK
First court martial on Iraq abuse
Specialist Jeremy Sivits
Sivits faces three charges
US forces have announced the first court martial to try a soldier over the Iraqi prisoner abuse scandal.

Specialist Jeremy Sivits, a 24-year-old military policeman, will go on trial in Iraq on 19 May.

Brig Gen Mark Kimmitt said he faced three charges in relation to the maltreatment of detainees, and the trial would be open to the public.

Six other soldiers are also facing criminal charges - and Gen Kimmitt said "we may see more people involved".

Spc Sivits of Hyndman, Pennsylvania, is the first person for whom a trial date has been set over the abuse of prisoners at Abu Ghraib prison outside Baghdad.

'Following orders'

The charges he faces are:

  • conspiracy to maltreat subordinates and detainees,

  • dereliction of duty for negligently failing to protect detainees from abuse, and

  • cruelty and maltreatment of detainees.

Gen Kimmitt said Spc Sivits would be treated as innocent until proven guilty.

"Please don't paint with such a wide brush that it indicts the other 135,000 American soldiers and marines out there doing the right thing," he told a news conference in Baghdad.

Picture of Iraqi prisoners being abused in Abu Ghraib jail (AP Photo/Courtesy of The New Yorker)
The images have caused shock around the world (AP Photo/Courtesy of The New Yorker)
Spc Sivits' father, Daniel Sivits, was quoted by the Associated Press news agency as saying his son had been "just doing what he was told to do".

He said his son had been trained as a truck mechanic, not as a prison guard.

On Saturday US President George Bush promised that "we will learn all the facts and determine the full extent of these abuses".

"Those involved will be identified. They will answer for their actions," Mr Bush said.

The BBC's James Blatch
"The first trial will take place in 10 days time"

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