Accessibility links

Former US Prison Commander in Iraq Charged with Aiding Enemy

The U.S. military has announced several charges against the former commander of one of the largest American-run prisons in Iraq. A statement by the military says Lieutenant-Colonel William Steele faces charges of aiding the enemy during the time he headed Baghdad's Camp Cropper detention facility. VOA's Barry Newhouse reports from Irbil.

The U.S. military says Lieutenant-Colonel Steele is charged with giving a cell phone to suspected insurgents detained in Camp Cropper between October 2005 and February 2006. He is accused of mishandling classified information and of having an improper relationship with a detainee's daughter and an interpreter. He also faces charges of possessing pornography.

In Washington, the top U.S. commander for Iraq, General David Petraeus, said Steele has been in custody in Kuwait for several weeks, but he refused to comment on the accusations.

"As with any case that is ongoing, a senior commander can't comment because of the concern over command influence. And, that's really where I have to leave that," said General Petraeus.

Meanwhile, fighting in Iraq Thursday killed at least 18 people and the U.S. military says soldiers killed seven suspected terrorists in Baghdad and Taji.

In Diyala province, where U.S. military officials say insurgents from Baghdad have set up operations in recent months, a suicide car bomber rammed an Iraqi army checkpoint, killing 10 soldiers. Police say 15 other people, including several civilians, were wounded in the attack in the town of Khalis.

Hours later, a car bomb killed six people in southern Baghdad. In northern Iraq, near the city of Mosul, police say three separate blasts targeting Kurdish security forces and a Kurdish political party (KDP) killed three people.

In the Shi'ite holy city Najaf, Iraq's deputy prime minister, Barham Saleh, met with top Iraqi Shi'ite cleric Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani to discuss the country's violence. Speaking on national television, the deputy prime minister acknowledged there have been some flaws in the government's performance in improving security and said more must be done to stop the fighting.

Barham Saleh says Iraq is facing barbaric terrorist attacks and must improve the security plan. He also says officials must focus on finding political solutions to the country's continuing violence.