John Sheed / The Australian – 2005-03-21 23:36:35
ADELAIDE (March 21, 2005) — Video footage of the treatment of prisoners by the US military at Guantanamo Bay would reveal many cases of substantial abuse as “explosive as anything from Abu Ghraib”, a lawyer said today.
Adelaide lawyer Stephen Kenny, who represented Australian David Hicks during the early part of his detention at the military prison in Cuba, told a law conference today 500 hours of videotape of prisoners at the US base existed.
Hicks, 29, from Adelaide, has been in American custody awaiting trial since being captured in Afghanistan in 2001 and accused of having links to terror group al-Qaeda. He is charged with conspiracy to commit war crimes, attempted murder and aiding the enemy.
Mr Kenny said the full story of abuse at Guantanamo Bay would not be told until the tapes were released, but they could be as damaging as the images of Iraqi prisoners being abused by US soldiers at the Abu Ghraib prison.
“I believe that these videos, if they are ever released, will be as explosive as anything from Abu Ghraib,” Mr Kenny told the LawAsia Downunder conference.
Abu Ghraib is the prison outside Baghdad from where pictures emerged of US guards abusing prisoners while some of them were forced into humiliating, sexually suggestive poses.
Mr Kenny said the US military videotaped the actions of the Immediate Reaction Force (IRF) who were responsible for prisoner control at Guantanamo Bay.
He said evidence of the violence used by the IRF came to light when a member of the US military, whom he identified as Specialist Baker, applied for a medical discharge after being involved in a training session.
“He was dressed in an orange jump suit and the IRF squad was instructed that he was a detainee who had abused a guard and was to be moved to another cell.
“What happened to him only came to light in Specialist Baker’s later hearing for a medical discharge from the military for the brain damage he suffered in the beating he received at the hands of that trainee squad.”
Mr Kenny told the conference the American Centre for Civil Liberties was pressing for the tapes to be released after an American journalist reported that a secret military review of 20 hours of the tapes had identified 10 substantial cases of abuse.
But he said the Government was refusing to release the tapes because of “privacy concerns”.
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