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Court-martial opens for Camp Cropper ex-military police chief accused of aiding enemy

[JURIST] The court-martial [press release; JURIST report] of former US military police commander Lt Col William H Steele began in Baghdad Monday on charges [JURIST report] of aiding the enemy by providing a cellular phone to detainees, giving special privileges, failing to obey an order, and for conduct unbecoming an officer by having an inappropriate relationship with an interpreter. Steele is the first officer to be prosecuted for aiding the enemy since the 2003 Iraq invasion and, if convicted, could face a life sentence.

Steele's defense lawyer said Monday that Steele was trying to make sure that detainees under his control were treated humanely and was making an effort to improve the US image in Iraq, but prosecutors insisted that Steele ignored rules put in place for detainees. Camp Cropper, located near Baghdad International Airport, is the second-largest US-run military prison [WP report] in Iraq after Camp Bucca in the wake of the closing of the notorious Abu Ghraib [JURIST news archive] prison which the US emptied [JURIST report] and transferred to the Iraqi government in 2006. Cropper currently has some 3000 inmates. AP has more.

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