Pentagon reveals probes into deaths of prisoners held in Iraq

Saturday, May 22, 2004

WASHINGTON -- The Army has investigated the deaths of 37 prisoners held by U.S. forces in Iraq and Afghanistan since August 2002, Pentagon officials revealed Friday.

Among the prisoner deaths, nine are still being investigated as possible homicides, eight by the military and at least one by the Justice Department because it apparently involved only CIA personnel.

In a 10th case, a soldier was punished and dismissed from the Army for using excessive force after shooting to death a man in Iraq who was throwing rocks at him in September 2003.

The rest are attributed to natural causes or considered justifiable homicides, in which a soldier had reason to use deadly force on a dangerously violent prisoner, officials said. Eight deaths, in four incidents in Iraq, were considered justified.

Even as the investigation into the abuse and humiliation of prisoners in Iraq goes forward, similar criminal inquiries are under way into the circumstances of prisoners who died.

The statistical breakdown was provided by a senior military official, who briefed reporters Friday on condition he not be identified.

Bryan Whitman, a Pentagon spokesman, said members of Congress were given the same information Friday.

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