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Last Updated: Thursday, 16 February 2006, 07:36 GMT
New inquiry urged over Abu Ghraib
Image of suspected Abu Ghraib abuse

US civil liberties groups have called for an inquiry into treatment of Iraqi detainees at Abu Ghraib after new images of apparent abuse were shown.

Campaigners say they hope publishing the new images will spur government action against senior officials responsible for policy at the jail.

The US government has said the images should not have been released and could incite violence.

Several soldiers have been jailed for the abuses at the Baghdad jail.

Australian TV on Wednesday aired previously unseen images of apparent prisoner abuse at Abu Ghraib in 2003.

The images on SBS TV are thought to be from the same source as those that caused an outcry around the world.

The new images show "homicide, torture and sexual humiliation", SBS said.

'Nothing to hide'

The SBS' Mike Carey told the BBC the images screened by his network on Wednesday mark a "leap in seriousness" from previously released images of abuse at Abu Ghraib.

Image of suspected Abu Ghraib abuse. Courtesy SBS television

The BBC's James Coomarasamy in Washington says it seems there is little political or indeed public appetite for a painful wound to be reopened, and the images are getting less prominence in the US media than elsewhere.

A US state department legal adviser said the government felt it was better for the photos not to be released.

John Bellinger said this was "not because there was anything to hide" - but rather "because we felt it was an invasion of the privacy of the people in the pictures".

He said the images, which show "conduct that is absolutely disgusting" were likely to "fan the flames around the world and cause more violence".

His view was echoed by Pentagon official Bryan Whitman, who added that hundreds of US soldiers had been prosecuted over past abuses, including 25 at Abu Ghraib.

HAVE YOUR SAY
The pictures will further blur and confuse this already tricky situation
Jonathan Christian, London

A Pentagon official, speaking on condition of anonymity, has confirmed the images aired on Wednesday are authentic, the AFP news agency reports.

"There is nothing new here," the official reportedly said, adding that the images "have been previously investigated as part of the Abu Ghraib investigation".

The images are thought to be part of a group of more than 100 photographs and four videos taken at Abu Ghraib and later handed to the US army's Criminal Investigations Division.

'Long-running pain'

The broadcast of the images comes at a time of increased tension between Muslim nations and the West over cartoons satirising the Prophet Muhammad.

Analysts say the reaction in the Muslim world may depend on how widely the images are shown.

In Iraq, the emergence of the images come amid tension caused by the release of a video appearing to show UK troops beating Iraqi civilians.

ABU GHRAIB SCANDAL TIMELINE
28 April 2004: CBS shows images from 2003 of inmates being subjected to abuses by US soldiers
30 April: Six US soldiers are charged. Three more are charged later.
6 May: President Bush apologises for abuse
19 May: First soldier to be court-martialled in this case is sentenced to jail. More convictions will follow
21 July 2005: Government files court papers to try to stop more images of abuse being made public
29 Sept: Judge rules 87 unseen pictures of Iraqi inmates abused by US troops should be released
15 Feb 2006: Australia's SBS TV broadcasts previously unpublished images

One of the videos broadcast on the Dateline programme appears to show prisoners being forced to masturbate for the camera.

Other video footage appears to show a prisoner hitting his head against a wall.

The channel said he was a mentally disturbed patient who became a plaything of guards who practised ways of restraining him.

Some photos are said to show corpses. There are also images of prisoners with body and head wounds.

Some of the pictures have now been re-broadcast on US networks and on Arab satellite channels al-Arabiya and al-Jazeera.


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