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Iraqi says U.S. general saw prison abuse

An Iraqi man alleged in a federal lawsuit that Brig. Gen. Janis Karpinski personally witnessed abuses, including his own, at Abu Ghraib prison.
/ Source: The Associated Press

The American general who headed the U.S. military prison at Abu Ghraib personally witnessed abuses there, an Iraqi man alleged in a federal lawsuit protesting his treatment.

In a videotaped deposition from Iraq played Tuesday, Saddam “Sam” Saleh Aboud said he endured beatings at the prison. During one session, his hood was removed and he said he saw Brig. Gen. Janis Karpinski.

Aboud identified Karpinski from a photograph in a news magazine that his lawyer, Michael Hourigan, showed him.

“He was adamant that there was an occasion when he was being tortured, in Tier 1A, when she was present and watching and laughing as he was being tortured,” Hourigan said. He said Aboud did not know Karpinski’s identity until he told him.

“He knew she was a supervisor because she had a star on her hat and she was in an American uniform,” Hourigan said. “He said the other soldiers would defer to her.”

Neither Karpinski nor her lawyer could be reached immediately for comment. They did not return several telephone calls and e-mail messages from The Associated Press on Tuesday.

A Pentagon spokesman, Lt. Col. Joseph Yoswa, said it would be inappropriate for him to comment on the pending litigation.

General previously denied knowledge
Karpinski, who was suspended by the Pentagon in May, previously has denied knowing about any abuses at the prison until photographs surfaced at the end of April. U.S. investigators have not implicated Karpinski directly in any of the abuses.

Aboud’s claims were presented as supporting evidence in a federal lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia. The lawsuit was brought on behalf of Aboud, three other alleged victims and the family of a fifth man who died at the prison. It seeks unspecified damages.

It’s at least the second such lawsuit nationwide against two military contractors, Titan Corp. of San Diego and CACI International Inc. of Arlington, Va., whose employees worked in Iraq.

Titan and CACI each denounced claims in the lawsuit that their employees participated in abuses at Abu Ghraib. A statement from CACI described the lawsuit as a “malicious and farcical recitation of false statements and intentional distortions.”

In the lawsuit itself, lawyers do not mention Karpinski. They allege that Aboud and others were beaten, forced to stand naked and threatened with military dogs. Aboud also alleges that he was forced to witness the rape of a female prisoner.