U.S. Army Specialist Jeremy Sivits has been sentenced to the maximum penalty
of one year in prison, a reduction in rank and a bad conduct discharge, after
pleading guilty to charges of abusing Iraqi prisoners at Baghdad's Abu Ghraib
Sivits broke down in tears as he apologized to the Iraqi people and the abused
Sivits is among seven U.S. soldiers accused of abusing Iraqi prisoners, and
the first to face a court martial. The 24-year-old soldier, who admitted taking
the widely-published photos of naked detainees, had already signed a statement
describing what he saw in Abu Ghraib. He is expected to testify in future courts-martial
of other soldiers facing charges.
Three of those soldiers, who are facing more serious charges of abuse, appeared
in the same courtroom earlier Wednesday for arraignment, but deferred entering
pleas. Another hearing was set for next month June 21 for Specialist Charles
Graner, Staff Sergeant Ivan Frederick and Sergeant Javal Davis.
Their cases were delayed after a lawyer for one of the soldiers told the
judge the government had denied his request to interview two victims of abuse
who were witnesses for the prosecution.
The other three soldiers facing charges have yet to appear for arraignment.
Thirty-four seats in the chamber had been reserved for journalists to cover
Wednesday's proceedings, including at least eight Arab reporters. However,
the court martial was not broadcast.
U.S. General Mark Kimmitt says that by opening the hearing to the media,
the military hopes to show American justice in action.