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Thursday, December 11, 2003

Incident: Salah Jassim jaw broken

Today, Iraqi high-school student Salah Salih Jassim will have his jaw broken while detained by coalition forces in Iraq. Here is an excerpt (page 1171) of his statement made during an internal investigation of the incident, taken 04 January 2004.
Q: How did your jaw get broken?
A: A soldier hit me.
Q: How do you know that if you had a bag over your head?
A: Not sure if it was a soldier but someone hit me.
Q: Then what?
A: The soldiers, one soldier, took the bag off my head, gave me water and told me to say I had fallen.
Q: What was happening one hour before you got hit?
A: They were hitting me.
Q: Where?
A: Stomach, neck, back.
Q: With what?
A: With hands and boots.
Q: Were people talking to you in Arabic?
A: Yes.
Q: What did he/they say?
A: One man said that I was crying. He asked me why I was crying like a woman.
A similar statement was made 18 December 2003 (page 1185, 1187), except that the victim claims to have been kicked.

The findings summary will state (page 1166):

There is no direct evidence that anyone saw the injury take place. [censored] was closest to [censored - presumably Jassim] when the incident occurred. He claimed in his first statement that he was helping Mr. [censored - presumably Jassim] get up when he lost his balance and fell. In later statements [censored] recanted this earlier statement and testified that he did not see Mr. [censored - presumably Jassim] fall. The greater weight of evidence suggests that [censored] claim is the most plausible. There is no direct evidence to the contrary.
A memorandum (page 1173) containing recommendations regarding the incident will later decide that the exact cause of the injury could not be determined.

In a Report of Proceedings by Investigating Officers (page 1164 onward), despite repeated witness statements from soldiers saying that they were told not to physically harm detainees, the following statement was made by a witness.

I saw the Chief throw them down, put his knee in his neck and back and grind them to the floor. He would use a bull-horn and yell at them in Arabic and play heavy metal music extremely loud, they got so scared they would urinate on themselves. He was very aggressive and rough with detainees.
Further, it was determined (see page 1199 Memorandum for Record)) that Jassim had "IED" (Improvised Explosive Device) written on his hood, with the implication that he had committed this crime. This practise was used to make infantry soldiers angry at the detainees, and had the desired effect (see Report of Proceedings by Investigating Officers page 1164 onward).

However, despite the above, the memorandum (page 1173) of recommendations regarding the incident concludes that the Commander showed the appropriate level of supervision and leadership. No court-martials or punishments have resulted from this incident.

This document forms part of the documentation released by various US Government Departments in response to an FOIA court order. If you are grateful for having received this information, consider supporting the organisations in the side-bar on the right.


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