A hearing opens in Iraq today to determine whether a US officer should be court-martialed for charges including aiding the enemy.
Army Lieutenant Colonel William Steele, a reservist from Virginia serving full time, is accused of nine violations of military law while he commanded a military police detachment at a main detention centre in Baghdad.
The charges include providing an unmonitored mobile phone to detainees, fraternising with a prisoner’s daughter, illegally storing and marking classified material, maintaining an inappropriate relationship with an interpreter, possessing pornographic videos, failure to obey an order and dereliction of duty regarding government funds.
The most serious charge, aiding the enemy, relates to Steele’s time at the jail at Camp Cropper and could carry a death sentence.
The camp is an expansive prison near Baghdad International Airport that held Saddam Hussein before he was hanged.
The rare charges were among the most serious against a senior American officer in Iraq.
They are also the latest in a series of embarrassments for the US military detention system in Iraq, including Abu Ghraib, where American jailers photographed themselves humiliating and torturing Iraqi prisoners.
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