Top military appeals court upholds Abu Ghraib guard convictions

[JURIST] The US Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces [official website] on Friday upheld [case materials] the convictions of two soldiers found guilty of offenses committed as guards at Abu Ghraib prison [JURIST news archive]. Army Spc. Sabrina Harman [opinion, PDF] had been convicted [JURIST report] of conspiracy, dereliction of duty and maltreatment of prisoners dating back to November 2003. Sgt. Michael Smith [opinion, PDF], similarly, was found guilty [JURIST report] of conspiracy to maltreat prisoners, dereliction of duty and indecent acts. Harman first gained notoriety by posing with a thumbs-up sign beside a pyramid of naked detainees, while Smith is best known for using a Belgian shepherd to intimidate prisoners. The appeals court upheld the convictions, finding no reversible error in the decision of the lower court, the Army Court of Criminal Appeals. The convictions recognized limited rights on the part of detainees outside the US.

Last May, the Obama administration decided not to release photographs [JURIST report] allegedly depicting rape and sexual assault carried out against Abu Ghraib detainees. Sexual abuse of detainees and other rights violations at Abu Ghraib occurring after the US invasion of Iraq have long been issues of concern for rights groups such as the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) [advocacy website]. In 2006, Abu Ghraib was turned over to Iraqi authorities and has since been renamed Baghdad Central Prison [JURIST report].

 

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