Senior US soldier tried for assaulting Iraqi

19 November 2003
A senior US military official serving in Iraq on 18 November faced a US military court in a preliminary hearing, accused of beating an Iraqi policeman to get information. Allen West is accused of striking Yahya Jhodri Hamoody during interrogation in August. An officer who questioned West after the incident said that he had already admitted firing shots near Hamoody's head, and that soldiers involved in interrogating him had used excessive force. 'He does not deny doing what is alleged in the charges but we as a defence team deny the criminality of the charges,' said lawyer Neal Puckett. 'Given the circumstances, he has not committed any crimes.' Michael Johnson, West's driver, told the military court: 'When he was not giving information that was pleasing to the interrogator or translator, we'd use abusing tactics, mainly striking him.' He said that US soldiers had pushed the detainee's head into a box of sand. 'He was just scared - I knew it was wrong,' Johnson said.

Three US reserve soldiers were charged on 18 November with assaulting Iraqi prisoners in southern Iraq at the start of the US-led invasion. The men will face a court-martial in January.

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