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Danes guilty of abuse in Iraq, but avoid punishment

January 12, 2006

Danes guilty of abuse in Iraq, but avoid punishment

By Louis Charbonneau

COPENHAGEN (Reuters) - A Danish intelligence officer and four military police sergeants were found guilty on two of four charges of abusing Iraqi prisoners but will not be punished, a Copenhagen court ruled on Thursday. 

"The defendants are to a certain degree found guilty but due to extenuating circumstances there is no basis for a sentence," judge Jorgen Lougart said. 

Reserve Captain Annemette Hommel, 38, and the sergeants were charged last year with subjecting Iraqi prisoners at a Danish camp in southern Iraq to ill-treatment. 

All five were found guilty of verbal humiliation and forcing prisoners to kneel uncomfortably during interrogation, but were cleared of restricting access to food, water and toilets. 

Hommel, who would have faced a penalty of up to one year, appealed the ruling to the high court. The sergeants' superior, she was the main defendant and the only one who may be named. 

Denmark's mandate to keep its around 530 troops serving with U.S.-led forces in Iraq expires on Feb 1. but it is expected to be extended to July 1. 

The judge said extenuating circumstances included unclear rules about procedures and insufficient and outdated training. 

"Hommel several times asked her superiors about procedures and specific guidance regarding detention and interrogation without getting any usable answers, and her superiors did not perform the necessary control that all conventions were observed," judge Lougart said. 

The case was partly based on allegations by civilian interpreters used by the Danish military. 


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