May 22, 2004

Did they really think no one would find out about this stuff?

Now the Denver Post reports that there were no autopsies performed on at least five Iraqi prisoners who died under mysterious circumstances in US custody.

Synopses of death investigations included in records obtained by the Post include:

•  A prisoner who died after 'gasping for air';
•  Another who had 'prior head injuries' fell out of a hospital bed and struck his head on the floor;
•  And yet another prisoner began having 'chest pains and collapsed.'

The deaths occurred between August 2003 and January 2004. Some of the prisoners who died were held at Abu Ghraib. The lack of autopisies may be a violation of the Geneva Conventions and other international standards governing the treatment of detainees and prisoners of war.

A veteran military lawyer said the incidents without autopsies raise many issues.

"What were the exigencies this organization was operating under that prevented them from conducting autopsies?" said Pat Gallaher, a retired Marine prosecutor who said military law-enforcement personnel typically order forensic examinations in such cases.

"What law-enforcement and medical personnel were available?"

United Nations and Geneva Convention standards for handling war prisoners call for official inquiries into prisoner deaths. United Nations rules mandate that autopsies be performed in suspicious deaths.

"That would seem to be covered under international law," said Kenneth Roth, executive director of Human Rights Watch.

"The investigative files (published by The Post) reveal deeply disturbing practices, which we hope the Pentagon will explain promptly and criminally pursue those responsible," he said.

Via USA Watch.

Posted by Magpie at May 22, 2004 06:55 AM | Iraq | Technorati links |