Pentagon probes 33 Iraq, Afghan deaths

/ Source: The Associated Press

The Defense Department said Friday that the military had undertaken 33 criminal investigations of deaths of detainees held by U.S. forces in Iraq and Afghanistan, eight more cases than it had reported two weeks ago.

Although the number of cases was 33, they included at least 37 people who had been killed, officials said.

Eight pending cases have been classified as homicides involving suspected assaults of detainees before or during interrogation sessions, a senior military official said on condition of anonymity.

Of the total number of cases, 30 were inside U.S.-run detention facilities, and three were outside. Fifteen of the 30 cases were declared by U.S. authorities to be deaths by natural cause or of undetermined cause, the senior official said.

Of the 15 other cases that happened inside detention facilities, four were categorized as justifiable homicides and two as homicides, and nine were still under active investigation, the official said.

Eight of those nine have been classified as homicides involving suspected assaults on detainees before or during questioning.

Six of the nine unresolved cases happened in Iraq, including two at Abu Ghraib prison, and three were in Afghanistan.

The 33 total cases date from December 2002 to the present.

Bryan Whitman, a spokesman for the Defense Department, said members of Congress were briefed on the 33 cases Friday.