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Guantanamo guards taunted detainees with Saddam hanging photos: Hicks lawyer

[JURIST] US soldiers taunted detainees at Guantanamo Bay [JURIST news archive] with pictures of Saddam Hussein's hanging [JURIST report] in "an attempt to intimidate and compel submission under a threat of death and mentally torture," according to comments made Thursday by a defense lawyer for Australian Guantanamo detainee David Hicks [JURIST news archive]. After visiting Hicks at at the detention facility, US defense lawyer Joshua Dratel said that the taunting violated the guarantees of the Geneva Conventions [ICRC materials] and said that Guantanamo was plagued by a "coercive and dehumanizing environment." According to a statement released by Hicks' lawyers, the photos of the Hussein execution were accompanied by a caption reading "Because Saddam chose not to co-operate and not tell the truth, because he thought by lying he would get released, for that reason he was executed." RTT News has more.

Hicks' lawyers called for an abuse investigation [JURIST report] in 2005, alleging they had videotape evidence [JURIST report] of abusive practices by US soldiers at Guantanamo Bay. In July 2005, the US reported no evidence of abuse [JURIST report] at the conclusion of an investigation launched at the request of the Australian government [JURIST report], though a military investigator testified [JURIST report] to witnessing a detainee suffer degradation and abuse falling short of torture. In October 2006, a second investigation was launched [JURIST report] after several guards allegedly bragged about beating prisoners [JURIST report]. Earlier this month a report by a UK parliamentary committee, some of whose members had been permitted to visit Guantanamo, concluded [JURIST report] that "abuse of detainees at Guantánamo Bay has almost certainly taken place in the past, but we believe it is unlikely to be taking place now."

2/2/07 - A US military spokesman said Thursday that a news report and images of Hussein's execution have been removed from a recreation area at Guantanamo where information about current events is posted. The military acknowledged that the materials "appeared insensitive" but said that they were meant to show detainees that Iraqis "are making progress and have delivered justice." AP has more.

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