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Guantanamo detainee says guards caused brawl trying to search Korans

[JURIST] A Guantanamo Bay [JURIST news archive] detainee from Yemen involved in a clash with guards [JURIST report] in May told his defense lawyer that guards had instigated the incident when they tried to handle Korans owned by detainees, the defense lawyer said Wednesday. The Yemen detainee's account contradicts reports given by Guantanamo guards and Navy Cmdr. Robert Durand, spokesman for Joint Task Force Guantanamo [official website; GlobalSecurity.org backgrounder], who maintains that a group of detainees lured the guards into a cell by staging a suicide attempt and then attacked them with makeshift weapons [press release, PDF]. The Yemeni denies that he and other detainees lured guards into their cell, contending instead that the guards ordered the detainees to turn over their Korans so the holy books could be searched for hoarded medicine. Earlier in the day, two other detainees attempted suicide by overdosing on prescription medications that they had stockpiled. Guards used pepper spray and fired a 12-gauge shotgun loaded with rubber balls to stop the fight, which lasted four to five minutes. Military personnel treated six prisoners for minor injuries and moved the inmates to a maximum-security facility.

Durand, calling the allegations from the Yemeni detainee false, said detainees make allegations involving the Koran to gain media attention, incite violence and rally other detainees within the Guantanamo detention center. Last year, allegations of Koran desecration at Guantanamo, sparked by a Newsweek report that was later retracted [JURIST report], prompted deadly anti-US rioting [JURIST report] in Afghanistan. Durand added that Guantanamo guards treat the Koran with the utmost respect, "in deference to the detainees' religious beliefs and to affirm our respect for Islam." AP has more.

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