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Quran was mishandled 5 times: Probe

May 27, 2005 08:50 IST

US officials on Thursday substantiated five cases in which military guards or interrogators mishandled the Quran of Muslim prisoners at Guantanamo Bay.

But officials found "no credible evidence" to confirm a prisoner's report that a copy of the holy book was flushed down a toilet, the prison commander said.

Brigadier General Jay W. Hood, who commands the detention centre in Cuba, told a Pentagon news conference that the prisoner who was reported to have complained to a Federal Bureau of Investigation agent in 2002 that a military guard threw a Quran in the toilet has told Hood's investigators that he never witnessed any form of Quran desecration.

The unidentified prisoner, questioned at Guantanamo on May 14, said he had heard talk of guards mishandling religious articles but did not witness any such acts, Hood said.

The general said he could not speculate on why the prisoner had recanted his earlier statement, which was contained in a 2002 summary of an FBI agent's interrogation of the prisoner.

"I'd like you to know that we have found no credible evidence that a member of the Joint Task Force at Guantanamo Bay ever flushed a Quran down a toilet," Hood said. "We did identify 13 incidents of alleged mishandling of the Quran by Joint Task Force personnel. Ten of those were by a guard and three by interrogators."

Of the 13 alleged incidents, five were substantiated, he said. Four were by guards and one was by an interrogator.

Hood said the five cases "could be broadly defined as mishandling" of the holy book, but he refused to discuss details.

At least 15 people were killed in Afghanistan after violence broke out following a report on Newsweek magazine, which claimed a copy of the holy book was flushed down a toilet.

There was widespread protests from the Islamic world and the magazine had to apologise and withdraw its story.

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