Iraqi doctors dismiss claims that Jessica Lynch was raped in hospital

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Iraqi doctors who treated the American former prisoner of war Jessica Lynch dismissed on Friday claims made in her biography that she was raped by her Iraqi captors.

Although Ms Lynch said she has no memory of the sexual assault, medical records cited in I Am a Soldier, Too: The Jessica Lynch Story allege she was raped and sodomised by her Iraqi captors. But Dr Mahdi Khafazji, an orthopaedic surgeon at Nasiriyah's main hospital, performed surgery on Ms Lynch to repair a fractured femur and said he found no signs that she was raped or sodomised.

Dr Khafazji, speaking at his private clinic in Nasiriyah, said he examined her extensively and would have detected signs of sexual assault. He said the examination turned up no trace of semen.

The doctor said Lynch suffered broken bones to her right arm, right leg and thighs and ankle and received a head injury when her Humvee utility vehicle was hit by a rocket-propelled grenade and crashed into another vehicle. Eleven soldiers were killed in the attack. She was taken first to the military hospital, a few hundred yards from the ambush site, at around 8am, about an hour after the attack. A few hours later, she was brought to his hospital.

"She was injured at about seven in the morning," he said. "What kind of animal would do it to a person suffering from multiple injuries?" Dr Jamal al-Saeidi, a brigadier general and head of the orthopaedic department at the now disbanded hospital, remembers seeing Ms Lynch's motionless body on a bed in the hospital. He said a police van parked outside appeared to have brought her to the hospital.

"When she was brought there she was fighting for her life," said Dr al-Saeidi. "She was in shock because of the severity of her injury." He said Ms Lynch was fully clothed with her field jacket buttoned up. "Her clothes were not torn; buttons had not come off; her pants were zipped up," Dr al-Saeidi said, adding that he found no signs of rape during an examination, although he acknowledged he was not looking for such signs.

Ms Lynch had lost more than half her blood because of a wound on the left side of her head, as well as broken limbs that caused internal bleeding, Dr al-Saeidi said. "We had a few minutes, golden minutes to save her," he said. He rushed her to the operating room and gave her intravenous fluid and blood and stitched her head wound.

Half an hour after surgery on Ms Lynch, Dr al-Saeidi assured her that she was in good hands. Soon after, military intelligence officers came to the hospital to take her away. Dr al-Saeidi told them if she did not get medical attention she would die. They took her to the Saddam Hospital, where she stayed nine days until Iraqi soldiers left the hospital. Several hours later American commandos raided the hospital and evacuated her.

"Why are they saying such things?" Dr Khodheir al-Hazbar, the hospital's deputy director, said. "We were good to her."

In an interview with the US television network ABC, Ms Lynch said she has no recollection of a rape. "Even just the thinking about that, that's too painful," she said. Ms Lynch told ABC she doesn't remember being slapped or mistreated at the hospital, and she recalled one nurse sang to her.

She also accused the military of using her capture and dramatic night-time rescue to boost public support for the war in Iraq. "They used me as a way to symbolise all this stuff," she said in an interview to be aired on US television on Tuesday. "It's wrong."