Friday, May 06, 2005

Demotion for Abu Ghraib commander


Demotion for Abu Ghraib commander

The former US commander in charge of the Iraqi prison at the centre of the abuse scandal has been demoted on the orders of President George W Bush.

Army Reserve Brigadier General Janis Karpinski has been reduced in rank to colonel, a US army statement said.

She was found guilty of dereliction of duty and accused of concealing a past shoplifting arrest, the army added.

Gen Karpinski is the highest-ranking US soldier to be disciplined over prisoner abuse at Baghdad's Abu Ghraib prison.

She headed the military police unit that ran the facility when inmates were maltreated.

In the past she has said she had not been given full authority over the prison and had been made a "convenient scapegoat" for the orders made by others.

An investigation by the army's inspector general substantiated allegations of leadership failures, the army said.

But the general was absolved of any specific actions that contributed directly to the abuse.

Others disciplined

"Though Brigadier General Karpinski's performance of duty was found to be seriously lacking, the investigation determined that no action or lack of action on her part contributed specifically to the abuse of detainees at Abu Ghraib," the army said.

Her demotion needed the approval of the US president.

US officials said the shoplifting allegation related to her arrest on suspicion of stealing cosmetics from a shop at an air force base, and then failing to report the incident to her superiors.

Other high-ranking officers, including former commander of US troops in Iraq Lt Gen Ricardo Sanchez and three of his top aides, have been cleared over the Abu Ghraib scandal.

Seven low-level soldiers have been convicted and two more are awaiting trial.

However in its latest statement, the army said disciplinary action has also been taken against five officers besides Janis Karpinski, but it did not identify them.

It said one colonel and two lieutenant colonels had been given unspecified administrative punishment, and two other lieutenant colonels had received letters of reprimand.