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Iraq notebook

Hundreds freed from Abu Ghraib

By wire services
Published June 15, 2004

WASHINGTON - Hundreds more Iraqi prisoners were released Monday from Abu Ghraib prison near Baghdad.

About 400 inmates were released, with about 100 more slated for freedom today, Lt. Col. Barry Johnson said from Iraq.

That puts the number of inmates in the region held by the U.S. military at about 6,000, he said. "Our goal is to get down to approximately four to five thousand by the end of this month."

At Abu Ghraib, Johnson said, about 2,900 inmates remain, with a goal of reducing their number to 2,000 when sovereignty is handed over on June 30 to an Iraqi government. The plan calls for the United States to maintain prison facilities at Abu Ghraib and at Camp Bucca near Umm Qasr in southern Iraq after the transfer of power, Johnson said.

BRITISH COURTS-MARTIAL: British Attorney General Lord Goldsmith announced Monday that four soldiers face courts-martial on charges of abusing detainees.

In a statement to the House of Lords in London, Goldsmith noted that in the investigation of 75 cases involving allegations of deaths, injuries or mistreatment of Iraqi civilians, four had been referred to the Army Prosecuting Authority and four others were likely to be.

The courts-martial involve one of the referrals and four soldiers from the Royal Regiment of Fusiliers, an infantry group, the statement said.

"The charges against the four include assault, indecent assault which apparently involves making the victims engage in sexual activity between themselves, and a military charge of prejudicing good order and military discipline," Goldsmith wrote.

Iraqi leader: U.S. to hand over Hussein to Iraqis

BAGHDAD - The United States will hand over Saddam Hussein and all other detainees to Iraq's new government over the next two weeks as sovereignty is restored, the interim prime minister said Monday.

U.S. officials have said they plan to continue to hold up to 5,000 prisoners deemed a threat to the coalition even after the restoration of Iraqi sovereignty at the end of this month. They say as many as 1,400 detainees will either be released or transferred to Iraqi authorities.

However, in an interview with Al-Jazeera television, Prime Minister Iyad Allawi said Iraqi officials expect to take possession of Hussein and all other detainees with the transfer of power. No U.S. response was reported.

Cheney again links Hussein to al-Qaida

ORLANDO - Vice President Dick Cheney said Monday that Saddam Hussein was linked to al-Qaida, an assertion that has been repeatedly challenged by policy experts and lawmakers.

"He was a patron of terrorism," Cheney said of Hussein during a speech before the James Madison Institute, a conservative think-tank based in Florida. "He had long-established ties with al-Qaida."

Cheney offered no evidence for the claim.

Senate backs repaying troops for equipment

WASHINGTON - The U.S. Senate on Monday voted unanimously to reimburse soldiers who bought their own flak jackets, hydration packs and other equipment before heading into war.

The measure, an amendment to the Senate's defense bill, passed 90-0 amid news reports that families and communities were raising money to pay for protective devices that the Army wasn't supplying to soldiers bound for Iraq or Afghanistan.

The Pentagon opposed the amendment, saying the government would end up paying for unapproved equipment that hadn't been adequately tested. The measure, which isn't in the House defense bill, would have to be settled in conference committee.

[Last modified June 15, 2004, 01:00:24]

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