The Justice Department is investigating the death of an Abu Ghraib prison detainee whose body, packed in ice, is documented in photos that also show two American soldiers posing nearby with thumbs up, a U.S. official said Thursday.
The photos show Army Sgt. Charles A. Graner Jr. and Spc. Sabrina Harman, both of whom have already been charged in the Iraq prisoner abuse scandal. They were shown first Wednesday by ABC-TV and on Thursday by the Arabic TV station Al-Arabiya.
A U.S. government official, speaking on condition of anonymity, identified the dead detainee as Manadel al-Jamadi. The official confirmed that al-Jamadi’s death was among those being investigated for possible criminal violations by Justice Department prosecutors.
The detainee, whose badly bruised corpse was in a body bag packed with ice, died in the prison’s showers while being interrogated by the CIA or other civilian agents, ABC reported Wednesday. At least three such CIA cases have been referred by the agency to the Justice Department for prosecution, the official said.
In an account published Monday, the Los Angeles Times reported that the victim had been brought to the prison with his head covered by an empty sandbag. It said he died in the midst of intensive questioning in the shower by military intelligence officials. After he collapsed, the interrogators removed the bag and then saw severe head wounds that had not been treated.
Calls by The Associated Press on Thursday to Graner’s lawyer, Guy Womack of Houston, and to Harman’s attorney, Frank Spinner of Colorado Springs, Colo., were not immediately returned.
Womack told ABC News the photo of his client represented inappropriate “gallows humor.”
Meanwhile, the Pentagon has told Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman John Warner, R-Va., that its criminal investigators in Baghdad were given a new photo diskette “under circumstances that warranted investigation, including forensic computer evaluation.” The diskette contains 24 photos showing what appears to be abusive acts committed by U.S. forces.
“Thirteen photographs appear to be images already seen on international television media,” said Assistant Defense Secretary Powell A. Moore, in a letter to Warner. “The other 11 images have not been identified in previous investigations. They may not be original or true photographs.”
A Senate Republican aide said the senators would wait until investigators determine the circumstances of the photos before they ask to see them.