US Army officials decide not to prosecute over deaths of prisoners
US Army officials have decided not to prosecute 17
soldiers involved in the deaths of prisoners in Iraq and Afghanistan, a military
Military investigators recommended courts-martial for the soldiers in the cases
of three prisoner deaths for charges ranging from making false statements to
Officers rejected those recommendations, ruling that the soldiers lawfully used
force or didn't understand the rules for using force, or that there was not
enough evidence to prosecute.
Eleven US Army soldiers are facing murder or other charges involving the deaths
of detainees in Iraq or Afghanistan.
The Army Criminal Investigation Command released a report detailing the cases of
27 detainees killed in custody in Iraq and Afghanistan between August 2002 and
Twenty-four cases encompassed the 27 deaths; 16 investigations have been closed
and eight remain open, according to the Army report.
Five cases were referred to other agencies, including deaths involving Navy and
Marine troops and CIA operatives.
"We take each and every death very seriously and are committed and sworn to
investigating each case with the utmost professionalism and thoroughness," said
Chris Grey, a spokesman for the Criminal
Army investigators turn over their recommendations to commanders of the soldiers
involved when they finish their investigations. Those commanders can decide
whether to bring criminal charges against the
In one case, commanders decided not to file recommended criminal charges against
11 soldiers involved in the death of a former Iraqi Army lieutenant colonel in
An autopsy indicated the man died from blunt force injuries and asphyxia.
Investigators determined there was enough evidence for negligent homicide
charges against two soldiers and for lesser charges, ranging from making false
statements to assault, against nine others.
The accused soldiers' commander, however, decided that the soldiers were
justified in using force against the Iraqi because he was being aggressive and
misbehaving. The case is closed.
In another case, Army Special Forces commanders decided not to bring charges
against a soldier accused of shooting and killing a detainee in Afghanistan in
The Special Forces commanders decided there wasn't enough evidence to bring that
soldier to trial, the New York Times reported.
The third case involved a soldier who killed an Iraqi detainee in September
2003. That soldier's commander decided the soldier was not well informed about
the rules for using force against prisoners.
One case where soldiers are facing courts-martial involves the death of a former
Iraqi Army major general who was stuffed headfirst into a sleeping bag and
suffocated. Four 3rd Armoured Cavalry Regiment
soldiers are awaiting trial on murder charges at Fort Carson, Colorado, in that
Another case involves three killings in the Sadr City sector of Baghdad in
August 2004, all involving soldiers from the 1st Cavalry Division who allegedly
shot the Iraqis during search operations.
Two soldiers in these cases have pleaded guilty at courts-martial and charges
against two other soldiers are pending courts-martial, the Army said.
In one of the Sadr City cases, two 1st Cavalry soldiers have been convicted of
murder. One is Staff Sergeant Johnny M. Horne, of Winston-Salem, North Carolina,
who pleaded guilty 10 December 2004
to killing a critically wounded 16-year-old Iraqi on 18 August 2004.
Horne described it as a mercy killing. He was sentenced to three years in
prison, a reduction in rank to private, total forfeiture of wages and a
The other soldier convicted in the same killing was Staff Sergeant Cardenas J.
Alban of Inglewood, California. He was convicted on 14 January and sentenced to
one year in prison, a bad-conduct discharge from the Army and reduction in rank
Another 1st Cavalry soldier faces charges of murder and obstruction of justice
in the deaths of two other Iraqis who were killed while being detained during
the same August 2004 operation in Sadr City.
Still another soldier faces charges of murder and making a false statement about
one of those two deaths. The involvement of other soldiers is still under