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US Military Officers Involved in Iraqi Prisoner Abuse Could Face Criminal Charges - 2004-05-06


U.S. Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld is expected to testify before the Senate Armed Services Committee Friday on reports of prisoner abuse at a U.S.-run facility in Iraq. And, President Bush, in interviews with two Arabic languge television channels, has vowed to punish those responsible for the abuse.

Earl Martin is a law professor at Texas Wesleyan University School of Law and a leading authority on U.S. military law. Mr. Martin tells VOA those alleged to have committed the abuse could find themselves tried and, if they are found guilty, sentenced under the body of law which applies to U.S. military personnel known as the Uniform Code of Military Justice. He says there is also the possibility of prosecution under another law.

"U.S. military members can be prosecuted under both the Uniform Code of Military Justice that is the substantive law for those offenses as well as under the Law of War," he explained. "The rules of courts martial allow for the Law of War to give rise to actual charges in courts martial. And there are, I am quite confident, various conventions and rules of the Law of War that have been violated here if, indeed, these prisoners were mistreated in the way that is being reported in the press."

The U.S. military says six officers face criminal charges in the case, and six other people have been reprimanded.

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