Four U.S. Navy commandos have been charged with prisoner abuse in Iraq, including involvement in the case of a prisoner who was beaten and later died at Abu Ghraib prison, the Navy said Friday.
A Navy statement did not identify the four sailors, who are members of a Sea-Air-Land, or SEAL, unit. They were notified on Thursday of the criminal charges filed against them, the Navy said.
The charges include assault, aggravated assault, maltreatment of detainees, failure to report maltreatment of detainees and soliciting others to commit an offense. All are punishable under the Uniform Code of Military Justice.
The Naval Criminal Investigation Service investigated the case.
Seven Army military police soldiers have been charged with abusing prisoners at Abu Ghraib, and charges are expected against others in the Army, but the cases announced Friday are the first against members of the Navy.
The Navy did not say how many cases were filed against each of the individual SEALs. Nor did it say how many instances of detainee abuse were involved, although it said one instance was the death of Manadel al-Jamadi, who was captured by a SEAL team on Nov. 4, 2003.
Al-Jamadi was thought to have been connected with an attack on a facility of the International Committee of the Red Cross. In detaining al-Jamadi, a SEAL subdued him by hitting him on the side of the head with the butt of a gun, according to an Army report released last month.
Two CIA personnel brought al-Jamadi to Abu Ghraib and put him in a shower room with a sandbag on his head. He was dead 45 minutes later. An autopsy determined that he died of a blood clot in his head that was probably the result of being struck with the firearm, the autopsy said.
A day after al-Jamadi died, U.S. personnel sneaked the body out of the prison on a stretcher, disguised so the dead person would appear to other inmates only to have been sick, the Army report said.
The Navy investigation is still examining circumstances of another detainee’s death, in April 2004. Other sailors may face disciplinary action when that case is finished, a Navy official said, speaking on condition of anonymity because of the continuing investigation.