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Americans 'Mishandled' Koran 5 Times at Guantanamo


The U.S. military has released details about five incidents in which jailers at the Guantanamo Bay detention center mishandled copies of the Koran.

An investigation at the prison facility in Cuba, housing more than 500 suspected terrorists, heard that a copy of the Muslim holy book was accidentally splashed with urine in one incident.

Interrogators stepped on or kicked copies of the Koran on two other occasions, and an inmate once reported that his Koran was defaced with an obscene comment written by hand, in English, on the book's inside cover.

Another time, copies of the Koran were splashed when guards tossed balloons filled with water into the detainees' quarters.

U.S. officials at the Guantanamo Bay facility have distributed more than 1,600 copies of the Koran to detainees some of whom have been held in Cuba for more than three years, without any formal charges.

Guards are told to respect Muslims' sensibilities by avoiding touching the holy books, if at all possible. Pentagon chief Donald Rumsfeld's spokesman says 28,000 interrogations at Guantanamo and "countless thousands" of other contacts between prisoners and guards were reviewed.

Spokesman Lawrence di Rita who is in Singapore Saturday with Mr. Rumsfeld says there were five incidents in which U.S. personnel mishandled the Koran, and 15 other incidents in which detainees themselves either mishandled or desecrated the Muslim text.

Four other incidents of alleged desecration of the Koran are still being investigated.

The U.S. military code of conduct on handling the Koran, Mr. di Riota says, "is obviously serious, respectful and appropriate."

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