WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The only U.S. Army officer to face court-martial over the scandal at Iraq’s Abu Ghraib prison will be reprimanded for disobeying an order not to discuss an investigation into the abuse of inmates at the jail.
Army Lt. Col. Steven Jordan faced a maximum punishment of five years in prison and dismissal from the Army, but a court-martial panel of 10 officers decided on the milder penalty, the Army said in a statement released on Wednesday.
The court-martial on Tuesday acquitted Jordan of being responsible for cruel treatment of detainees at Abu Ghraib. Images of the prisoner abuse published in 2004 provoked outrage around the world.
The military court at Fort Meade, Maryland, also acquitted Jordan of failing to train soldiers to treat inmates properly. But it found that he had communicated with other soldiers about the investigation, despite being told not to do so.
It was not immediately clear what form the reprimand might take. The Army statement said Jordan would have the chance to submit a request for clemency before any reprimand was issued.
Prosecutors had argued Jordan was in charge of an interrogation center at the prison west of Baghdad.
But his defense team said he had no command authority over anyone at the prison and his job was to improve living conditions for soldiers there.
Human rights activists have criticized the U.S. government’s efforts to deal with the Abu Ghraib scandal, saying investigations should have been much broader and examined the role of senior officers more closely.
Images of the abuse, including naked detainees stacked in a pyramid and others cowering before snarling dogs, became public in April 2004.
The widely publicized pictures, taken in late 2003, triggered international condemnation of the United States and damaged the reputation of the U.S. military as it waged war in Iraq.
Several low-ranking soldiers have been convicted in military courts in connection with the physical abuse and sexual humiliation of detainees at Abu Ghraib.
Two officers senior to Jordan at Abu Ghraib were disciplined by the Army, but neither faced criminal charges.