Autopsies confirm homicides in deaths of 21 U.S. prisoners

NATION DIGEST

Nation Digest

October 25, 2005|By LOS ANGELES TIMES

WASHINGTON -- Autopsy reports on 44 prisoners who died in U.S. custody in Iraq and Afghanistan indicate that 21 were the victims of homicide, including eight who appear to have been fatally abused by their captors, the American Civil Liberties Union reported yesterday.

Detainees were smothered, beaten or exposed to the elements, sometimes during interrogations. Many of these cases had been brought to light previously but now have been confirmed through autopsies; some of the deaths followed abusive interrogations by elite Navy SEALs, military intelligence and the CIA, the ACLU said.

ACLU officials called for senior military officials to be identified and held accountable for the deaths.

The U.S. military has come under sustained criticism for its handling of prisoners since photos of abuse at Iraq's Abu Ghraib prison surfaced in May 2004.

The Pentagon has launched investigations, but critics lament that no one over the rank of brigadier general has been held accountable.

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