U.S. advisers saw Iraqi murdered, rights group says WAR IN THE GULF

March 22, 1991|By Doug Struck | Doug Struck,Sun Staff Correspondent

KUWAIT CITY — A headline in yesterday's editions of The Sun indicated incorrectly that U.S. advisers witnessed the murder of an Iraqi prisoner at a Kuwait police station. The account should have been attributed to a Palestinian who was being held by the Kuwaitis at the police station.

KUWAIT CITY -- An Iraqi prisoner of war was shot to death in a police station, and U.S. military advisers have watched abuses at the hands of the Kuwaiti military, a human rights group said yesterday.

In one case, a U.S. military adviser stopped the torture of a man who had been detained by the Kuwaiti authorities, according to the group, Middle East Watch. In two other cases, U.S. advisers were present during mistreatment, the group said.

FOR THE RECORD - CORRECTION

The accounts came from "credible" eyewitnesses, according to Andrew Whitley, executive director of Middle East Watch.

A U.S. Army spokesman said that "there have been no substantiated reports of that kind of activity taking place in front of a U.S. soldier."

Mr. Whitley said a Palestinian being held by Kuwaiti authorities witnessed the murder of an Iraqi pilot apprehended after the liberation of Kuwait City and held in a police station. "After the shooting, he [the Palestinian] was told to fetch a pail of water and clean up the mess," Mr. Whitley said.

Mr. Whitley called a news conference to release results of the investigation into mass detention and abuses at the hands of Kuwaiti soldiers since the end of the war.

He said there had been "a pattern of indiscriminate roundups" of Palestinians and other minorities in Kuwait, some done by "free-lance gangs" of soldiers and some "with high-level army knowledge."

Mr. Whitley said yesterday that his group thought as many as 2,000 people were being held by the army or other uniformed groups. He said that he had evidence of "eight or nine" bodies but that estimates from morgue and cemetery records indicate "30 or 40 people have been killed illegitimately and, sometimes, after torture."

Palestinians have been singled out for abuse because many Kuwaitis feel that some of them sided with the Iraqi occupiers.

The Kuwaiti army and former members of the Kuwaiti resistance now in uniform man checkpoints throughout Kuwait City and staff the police stations. U.S. advisers are assigned to some of those units, and their knowledge of abuses threatens to become an embarrassment to the U.S. government.

U.S. Ambassador Edward W. Gnehm said in an interview this week that the U.S. advisers were a "restraint" on Kuwaiti excesses.

Lt. Col. Bill Diehl, a spokesman for the U.S. Army in Kuwait City, FTC said yesterday, "I'm convinced if something like that would take place in the presence of military personnel, he would do whatever he couldto prevent it."

Mr. Whitley said the torture techniques administered t Palestinians and other minorities "are very similar to those practiced by Iraqis on Kuwaitis."

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