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5/11/04 - JUSTICE IN IRAQ - 2004-05-11

The first court-martial related to the abuse of Iraqi detainees will be held in Baghdad beginning May 19th. The trial will be open to the press.

Jeremy Sivits, the defendant, is charged with conspiracy to maltreat detainees at Abu Ghraib prison. He is also charged with dereliction of duty and negligently failing to protect detainees from abuse and cruelty. Photographs showing U.S. soldiers abusing Iraqi prisoners appeared in media around the world.

In January, shortly after a U.S. soldier reported the abuses to his superiors, an investigation was launched. President George W. Bush says, “We will learn all the facts and determine the full extent of these abuses”:

“Those involved will be identified. They will answer for their actions. All prison operations in Iraq will be thoroughly reviewed to make certain that similar disgraceful incidents are never repeated.”

The abuses at Abu Ghraib prison by U.S. soldiers, says President Bush, are a stain on America’s honor and reputation:

“What took place in that Iraqi prison was the wrongdoing of a few, and does not reflect the character of the more than two-hundred-thousand military personnel who have served in Iraq since the beginning of Operation Iraqi Freedom. America is a compassionate country that believes in justice and freedom.”

The vast majority of the Iraqi people want a free society. Next month they will take a step forward when Iraq regains its sovereignty. On June 30th, an Iraqi interim government will assume authority, and Iraqis will take charge of basic services, ranging from law enforcement to foreign policy.

The U.S.-led coalition’s mission in Iraqi will continue. The U.S. “has no intention of leaving that nation at the mercy of thugs and murderers,” says President Bush. “We’re determined to help build a free and stable Iraq, a nation at peace with its neighbors and with the world.”