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Red Cross: US Repeatedly Urged to Take Action at Iraqi Prison - 2004-05-06


The International Committee of the Red Cross says it repeatedly urged U.S. authorities to take "corrective action" at Baghdad's Abu Ghraib prison before photographs of prisoner abuse appeared in the media.

A spokeswoman (Antonella Notari) in Geneva says the ICRC was aware of the situation, and, based on its investigations, repeatedly requested U.S. authorities to take action.

The spokeswoman said the ICRC, which has a mandate to visit prisoners, has had regular access to Abu Ghraib since U.S.-led occupation forces began using the prison last year. But she said she could not comment on findings and recommendations made to the authorities.

Wednesday President Bush pledged in interviews with two Arabic-language television channels that there will be a full investigation of the prisoner abuse and that "justice will be served."

The president said the mistreatment of Iraqi prisoners as shown in photographs in media reports is --in his words -- "abhorrent" and "does not represent the America that I know."

Photographs of Iraqi detainees at the Abu Ghraib prison, wearing hoods and posed in degrading positions, have drawn worldwide condemnation.

The Washington Post reports today (Thursday) that it has obtained more digital photographs apparently showing American soldiers abusing Iraqi prisoners. The newspaper says the graphic images were mixed in with many other photographs of everyday military life and had been circulated among a military police company. But the Post says it could not eliminate the possibility that some of the photographs were staged.

Likely Democratic presidential candidate, Senator John Kerry, has criticized the administration's response to the reported abuse as "slow and inappropriate." He says an investigation is needed to discover if top officials had been aware of the mistreatment and for how long.

Information for this report is provided by AP, AFP and Reuters.

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