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Marine Alleges Detainee Beatings

October 07, 2006|From Times staff and wire reports

CAMP PENDLETON — A sworn statement from a Marine sergeant alleging that guards at the U.S. military facility in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, regularly beat terrorism detainees -- and bragged about it -- has been turned over to Pentagon investigators.

"I was shocked and outraged to find that beatings are continuous and open," Lt. Col. Colby Vokey, the Marine Corps' defense coordinator for the Western United States, said Friday. Vokey is lawyer for one of the prisoners. He forwarded the two-page statement from the sergeant, a paralegal, to the inspector general's office at the Department of Defense.

"This is offensive," Vokey said. "I don't want my fellow Marines treated this way if they are ever captured."

In the statement, the sergeant said that on Sept. 23, she met a group of men at a bar on the Guantanamo base who identified themselves as guards. The woman said she spent about an hour talking with them. No one was in uniform, she said.

A 19-year-old sailor referred to only as Bo "told the other guards and me about him beating different detainees being held in the prison," the sergeant said in her statement.

"One such story Bo told involved him taking a detainee by the head and hitting the detainee's head into the cell door. Bo said that his actions were known by others" but that he was never punished, the statement said.

A Pentagon spokesman, Navy Lt. Cmdr. Chito Peppler, said Friday that officials "are reviewing this affidavit and will investigate these allegations fully." A call to the inspector general's office was not immediately returned.

Navy Cmdr. Robert Durand, spokesman for the Joint Task Force that oversees detention facilities at Guantanamo, said the force "will participate fully with the inspector general to learn the facts of the matter and will take action where misconduct is discovered."

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