Abu Ghraib case: officers are cleared of responsibility

The US army investigation into the torture of Iraqi prisoners at &to=http:// english.pravda.ru/mailbox/ 22/101/399/14969_Guantanamo.html ' target=_blank>Abu Ghraib has cleared four out of five top officers of any responsibility for the scandal that shocked America and the world.

The probe has effectively exonerated Lieutenant-General Ricardo Sanchez, the US senior commander in Iraq at the time of the abuse. It also cleared three of Sanchez's deputies.

That has led to accusations that the investigation, carried out by the army's inspector-general, is a whitewash that has let ordinary soldiers carry the blame while letting off their commanding officers. The only officer recommended for punishment is Brigadier-General Janis Karpinksi, who was in charge of Abu Ghraib at the time. She is expected to receive a reprimand for dereliction of duty.

The pictures of American soldiers abusing and torturing prisoners created a global backlash against the US presence in Iraq, outraging allies and opponents alike, tells the Guardian Unlimited.

Three officers who were among Sanchez's top deputies during the period of the prisoner abuse in the fall of 2003 also have been cleared. An Army Reserve one-star general has been reprimanded, and the outcome of seven other senior Army officer cases could not be learned Friday. Sanchez, who became the senior U.S. commander in Iraq in June 2003, two months after the fall of Baghdad, has not been accused of criminal violations. It is unclear, however, whether the controversy surrounding his role in &to=http:// english.pravda.ru/usa/2003/03/27/45167.html ' target=_blank>Iraq will stand in the way of his earning a fourth star. He is nearing the end of his tenure as commander of the Army's 5th Corps, based in Germany.

After assessing the allegations against Sanchez and taking sworn statements from 37 people, the Army's inspector general, Lt. Gen. Stanley E. Green, concluded that the allegations were unsubstantiated, according to officials familiar with the details of Green's probe. Green reached the same conclusion in the cases of two generals and a colonel who worked on Sanchez's staff.

The officials who disclosed the findings spoke only on condition of anonymity because the results on Sanchez and 11 other officers who were the subject of Green's scrutiny have not yet been publicly released and Congress has not been fully briefed.

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