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Army Specialist Sentenced to 1 Year in Prison for Iraqi Prisoner Abuse - 2004-05-19

U.S. Army Specialist Jeremy Sivits has been sentenced to the maximum penalty of one year in prison, a reduction in rank and a bad conduct discharge, after pleading guilty to charges of abusing Iraqi prisoners at Baghdad's Abu Ghraib prison.

Sivits broke down in tears as he apologized to the Iraqi people and the abused detainees.

Sivits is among seven U.S. soldiers accused of abusing Iraqi prisoners, and the first to face a court martial. The 24-year-old soldier, who admitted taking the widely-published photos of naked detainees, had already signed a statement describing what he saw in Abu Ghraib. He is expected to testify in future courts-martial of other soldiers facing charges.

Three of those soldiers, who are facing more serious charges of abuse, appeared in the same courtroom earlier Wednesday for arraignment, but deferred entering pleas. Another hearing was set for next month June 21 for Specialist Charles Graner, Staff Sergeant Ivan Frederick and Sergeant Javal Davis.

Their cases were delayed after a lawyer for one of the soldiers told the judge the government had denied his request to interview two victims of abuse who were witnesses for the prosecution.

The other three soldiers facing charges have yet to appear for arraignment.

Thirty-four seats in the chamber had been reserved for journalists to cover Wednesday's proceedings, including at least eight Arab reporters. However, the court martial was not broadcast.

U.S. General Mark Kimmitt says that by opening the hearing to the media, the military hopes to show American justice in action.