Guantanamo guards 'admitted abusing inmates'

As the US rejected fresh British government criticism of Guantanamo Bay, an American soldier has made new charges that military guards brutally treated inmates at the controversial top security prison for terrorist suspects in south-eastern Cuba.

In a sworn affidavit, Heather Cerveny, a 23-year-old Marine Corps sergeant, says she met several prison guards at a club on the base where they told her over drinks of harsh abuse of detainees, she said the guards claimed the abuse was both commonplace and justified. The allegations are now being investigated by US Southern Command, under whose jurisdiction Guantanamo Bay falls.

In an interview with ABC News, Sgt Cerveny recounted how one soldier specifically told her: "I took the detainee by the head and smashed his head into the cell door." She alleged that the guard also said: "That guy was annoying me. You know, I smacked him in the head." She said she then asked one of the guards who boasted of the beatings what consequences he had suffered for his part in abusing prisoners. "And he [the guard] said 'nothing'." And, Sgt Cerveny added, "this wasn't bragging like boy talk at the bar. I took it like this is something they do."

The affidavit was filed last week with the Pentagon's inspector general, in accordance with the military's policy of encouraging servicemen and women to report such instances of abuse, after the storm of domestic and international criticism of the treatment of prisoners at Guantanamo and the Abu Ghraib jail near Baghdad. The inspector general referred the affidavit to Southern Command.

The allegations are the latest in a long series of such accounts of detainee abuse, and far from the most shocking or graphic. But they are particularly embarrassing because they contradict recent White House and Pentagon assurances that the problem had been dealt with.

Only last month, as he lobbied Congress to pass legislation setting out new rules for the detention and trial of terrorist suspects, President Bush declared that US troops "can take great pride" in the work they did at Guantanamo Bay, whose 450-plus inmates now include the 14 top suspects transferred there in September after years of detention incommunicado in secret CIA prisons overseas.

It was confirmed this week that this group - which includes Khalid Sheik Mohammed, the alleged mastermind of the 9/11 attacks, and Abu Zubaydah, another high ranking al-Qa'ida operative - received a visit from the Red Cross, their first encounter with non-US officials since their capture. Others however have been held at Guantanamo itself for more than four years, ever since the prison opened in early 2002. Only 10 have been charged with any crime.

Despite assurances from Mr Bush himself that he would rather Guantanamo was shut down, there is no prospect of that happening any time soon. Brushing off the latest such demand - from the British Foreign Secretary Margaret Beckett, US officials reiterated yesterday that those detained were serious terrorist threats, and that the prison would stay open as long as neccessary.

"Look, we don't want Guantanamo open forever," said Sean McCormack, the State Deaprtment spokesman. "We don't want to be the world's jailers. We certainly would look forward to the day when Guantanamo is closed."

Mrs Beckett is the highest ranking British official to publicly criticise the US for its detention of suspects without trial at the camp. Guantanamo Bay did as much to radicalise extremists as it did to promote security, she said. "The continuing detention without fair trial of prisoners is unacceptable in terms of human rights, but it is also ineffective in terms of counter-terrorism."

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA celebration of British elections
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Ashdown Group: Marketing Manager (B2B) - Romford - £40,000 + car

£35000 - £40000 per annum + car and benefits: Ashdown Group: Marketing Manager...

Ashdown Group: Helpdesk Analyst - Devon - £20,000

£18000 - £20000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Helpdesk Analyst - Devon - £20,000 ...

Ashdown Group: Data Scientist - London - £50,000 + bonus

£35000 - £50000 per annum + generous bonus: Ashdown Group: Business Analytics ...

Ashdown Group: IT Project Coordinator (Software Development) - Kingston

£45000 - £50000 per annum: Ashdown Group: IT Project Coordinator (Software Dev...

Day In a Page

General Election 2015: ‘We will not sit down with Nicola Sturgeon’, says Ed Balls

'We will not sit down with Nicola Sturgeon'

In an exclusive interview, Ed Balls says he won't negotiate his first Budget with SNP MPs - even if Labour need their votes to secure its passage
VE Day 70th anniversary: How ordinary Britons celebrated the end of war in Europe

How ordinary Britons celebrated VE Day

Our perception of VE Day usually involves crowds of giddy Britons casting off the shackles of war with gay abandon. The truth was more nuanced
They came in with William Caxton's printing press, but typefaces still matter in the digital age

Typefaces still matter in the digital age

A new typeface once took years to create, now thousands are available at the click of a drop-down menu. So why do most of us still rely on the old classics, asks Meg Carter?
Discovery of 'missing link' between the two main life-forms on Earth could explain evolution of animals, say scientists

'Missing link' between Earth's two life-forms found

New microbial species tells us something about our dark past, say scientists
Ronald McDonald the muse? Why Banksy, Ron English and Keith Coventry are lovin' Maccy D's

Ronald McDonald the muse

A new wave of artists is taking inspiration from the fast food chain
13 best picnic blankets

13 best picnic blankets

Dine al fresco without the grass stains and damp bottoms with something from our pick of picnic rugs
General Election 2015: Ed Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

He was meant to be Labour's biggest handicap - but has become almost an asset
General Election 2015: A guide to the smaller parties, from the the National Health Action Party to the Church of the Militant Elvis Party

On the margins

From Militant Elvis to Women's Equality: a guide to the underdogs standing in the election
Amr Darrag: Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister in exile still believes Egypt's military regime can be replaced with 'moderate' Islamic rule

'This is the battle of young Egypt for the future of our country'

Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister Amr Darrag still believes the opposition can rid Egypt of its military regime and replace it with 'moderate' Islamic rule, he tells Robert Fisk
Why patients must rely less on doctors: Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'

Why patients must rely less on doctors

Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'
Sarah Lucas is the perfect artist to represent Britain at the Venice Biennale

Flesh in Venice

Sarah Lucas has filled the British pavilion at the Venice Biennale with slinky cats and casts of her female friends' private parts. It makes you proud to be a woman, says Karen Wright
11 best anti-ageing day creams

11 best anti-ageing day creams

Slow down the ageing process with one of these high-performance, hardworking anti-agers
Juventus 2 Real Madrid 1: Five things we learnt, including Iker Casillas is past it and Carlos Tevez remains effective

Juventus vs Real Madrid

Five things we learnt from the Italian's Champions League first leg win over the Spanish giants
Ashes 2015: Test series looks a lost cause for England... whoever takes over as ECB director of cricket

Ashes series looks a lost cause for England...

Whoever takes over as ECB director of cricket, says Stephen Brenkley
Fishing for votes with Nigel Farage: The Ukip leader shows how he can work an audience as he casts his line to the disaffected of Grimsby

Fishing is on Nigel Farage's mind

Ukip leader casts a line to the disaffected