At least 108 have died in custody of U.S.

Iraq Notebook

At least 108 people have died in U.S. custody in the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, and roughly a quarter of the cases have been investigated as possible U.S. abuse, according to government data provided to The Associated Press.

Some 65,000 prisoners have been taken during the U.S.-led wars. Most have been freed.

Of the prisoner deaths:

• At least 26 have been investigated as criminal homicides involving possible abuse.

• At least 29 are attributed to suspected natural causes or accident.

• Twenty-two died during an insurgent mortar attack on April 6, 2004, on Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq.

• At least 21 are attributed to "justifiable homicide," when U.S. troops used deadly force against rioting, escaping or threatening prisoners, and investigations found the troops acted appropriately.

The 108 figure, based on information supplied by Army, Navy and other government officials, includes deaths attributed to natural causes. At least two prisoners died during interrogation, in incidents that raise the question of torture. Human-rights groups say there are others.

Bush denies that coalition is crumbling

President Bush acknowledged yesterday that U.S. allies are eager to get out of Iraq but firmly denied the coalition was crumbling.

A day after Italy announced it would begin withdrawing soldiers from Iraq by September, Bush refused to discuss the timing of any U.S. pullout. "Our troops will come home when Iraq is capable of defending herself," he said. The coalition of countries that provided troops has fallen from 38 nations to 24, and the United States continues to shoulder the bulk of the outside responsibility and suffer most of the non-Iraqi casualties.

"People want their troops home. But they don't want their troops home if it affects the mission," he said.

Asked if the coalition was crumbling, Bush said, "No, quite to the contrary. I think the coalition has been buoyed by the courage of the Iraqi people" in defying death threats to vote.

In Rome yesterday, Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi appeared to backtrack from his September date.

"There's never been a fixed date," Berlusconi said. "It was only my hope ... If it is not possible, it is not possible. The solution should be agreed with the allies."

Captain convicted of assault in small town

Army Capt. Shawn L. Martin was convicted yesterday of assaulting three Iraqis in a small Iraqi town he was accused of terrorizing. He is to be sentenced today.

Witnesses testified Martin kicked and screamed at Iraqi civilians, threatened to shoot detainees and pointed a gun at the head of one of his sergeants. Prosecutor Maj. Tiernen Dolan likened Martin to a small-town sheriff ruling the Iraqi town of Ar Rutbah with a baseball bat and a 9-mm pistol.


Insurgents who set up a checkpoint yesterday 23 miles south of Baghdad fired at three civilian cars, killing three people, including a woman.

A suicide car bomb exploded yesterday near an Iraqi army checkpoint in Baqouba, 35 miles northeast of Baghdad, killing four Iraqi soldiers and wounding 15.

© the Seattle Times

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