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Tuesday, January 06, 2004 - Page updated at 12:00 A.M.
3 reservists discharged from Army after abuse
By Diana Elias
KUWAIT CITY The U.S. Army discharged three reservists and ordered them to forfeit two-months' salary for abusing prisoners at a detention center in Iraq, a U.S. military spokesman said yesterday.
The three soldiers, all from Pennsylvania, were scheduled to face courts-martial this month but opted instead to submit to a nonjudicial hearing, in which their conduct was judged by a commander without a jury, Lt. Col. Vic Harris said. Such hearings are common practice, he said.
Brig. Gen. Ennis Whitehead III, the acting commander of the 143rd Transportation Command, found the three soldiers had maltreated prisoners at Camp Bucca, southern Iraq, on May 12. The general found that Master Sgt. Lisa Marie Girman, 35, a Pennsylvania state trooper, knocked a prisoner to the ground, "repeatedly kicking him in the groin, abdomen and head, and encouraging her subordinate soldiers to do the same," Harris said.
Staff Sgt. Scott A. McKenzie, 38, a lieutenant at a boot-camp-style prison run by the Pennsylvania Department of Corrections, was found to have dragged a prisoner by his shoulders and then to have held his legs apart "and encouraging others to kick him in the groin while other U.S. soldiers kicked him in the abdomen and head," Harris said.
McKenzie was also found to have thrown the detainee face-down to the ground and have stepped on "his previously injured arm."
The general also found McKenzie made "a false sworn statement to a special agent of the U.S. Army Criminal Investigation Division."
Spc. Timothy F. Canjar, 21, was found to have made a false statement to the Army's criminal investigators and to have held a detainee's legs apart "while others kicked him in the groin," in addition to "violently twisting his previously injured arm and causing him to scream in pain."
The findings were handed down at Camp Arifjan in Kuwait on Dec. 29. The three soldiers have returned to the United States.
A fourth soldier was charged in the same case, but Sgt. Shawna Edmondson, 24, also from the same Pennsylvania reserve unit, requested and received an "other-than-honorable" discharge from the military last year rather than face a court-martial. The three others received "general, under honorable conditions" discharges, Harris said.
All four said they acted in self-defense and used minimum force to subdue unruly prisoners who had attacked them. The soldiers also said guards were being assaulted by prisoners daily.
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