Girl Aged 12 was stripped and beaten by military personnel
Fri May 7 2004 "ITV" -- The US military has said it will investigate claims by a former inmate of Abu Ghraib prison that a girl as young as 12 was stripped and beaten by military personnel.
Suhaib al-Baz, a journalist for the al-Jazeera television network, claims to have been tortured at the prison, based west of Baghdad, while held there for 54 days.
Mr al-Baz was arrested when reporting clashes between insurgents and coalition forces in November.
He said: "They brought a 12-year-old girl into our cellblock late at night. Her brother was a prisoner in the other cells.
"She was naked and screaming and calling out to him as they beat her. Her brother was helpless and could only hear her cries. This affected all of us because she was just a child.
The allegations cannot be verified independently but Mr al-Baz maintains psychological and physical violence were commonplace in the jail.
He also claims that a father and his 15-year-old son were tortured in front of his cell.
He said: "They made the son carry two jerry cans full of water. An American soldier had a stick and when he stopped, he would beat him.
"He collapsed so they stripped him and poured cold water over him. They brought a man who was wearing a hood. They pulled it off. The son was shocked to see it was his father and collapsed.
"When he recovered, he now saw his father dressed in women's underwear and the Americans laughing at him.
Mr al-Baz claims the guards at the prison were keen to take photographs of the abuse and turned it into a competition.
"They were enjoying taking photographs of the torture. There was a daily competition to see who could take the most gruesome picture.
"The winner's photo would be stuck on a wall and also put on their laptop computers as a screensaver.
"I had a good opinion of the Americans but since my time in prison, I've changed my mind. In Iraq we still have no freedom or democracy. They are so cruel to us."
The International Committee of the Red Cross has said Iraqis held by US forces have been subjected to systematic degrading treatment, sometimes close to torture, that may have been officially condoned.
The ICRC said visits to detention centres in Iraq between March and November 2003 had turned up violations of international treaties on prisoners of war.
The ICRC, whose reports on prison visits are confidential, went public with some of its findings after parts of the 24-page document were carried by the Wall Street Journal.
The scandal over detainee abuse broke last week with the release of photographs showing the sexual humiliation of Iraqi prisoners in Abu Ghraib.
US Defecse Secretary Donald Rumsfeld has taken responsibility for the incidents and apologised to the victims, the Iraqi people and Americans.
© 2004 Independent Television. UK.
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