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Medics accused in Guantanamo report

Doctors working for the US military ignored or covered up brutal acts of physical and psychological torture at Guantanamo Bay, it has been claimed.

Researchers came to the conclusion after reviewing evidence relating to nine individuals who claimed they were mistreated at the US naval base and detention camp in Cuba.

Their report said doctors frequently attributed serious symptoms of post-traumatic stress after interrogations to "personality disorders" or the "routine stressors of confinement".

They also documented injuries consistent with severe beatings, such as bone fractures, while making no attempt to explain them or inquire about their cause.

Each of the detainees reported being subjected to treatment that met the United Nations' definition of torture, as well as the "enhanced interrogation techniques" (EITs) sanctioned by former US President George W Bush.

Among the alleged acts of torture were severe beatings resulting in loss of consciousness and broken bones, sexual assault and the threat of rape, mock executions and near asphyxiation from water or being choked. EITs included sleep deprivation, extremes of temperature, threats, forced positions and forced nudity.

The research, published in the online journal Public Library of Science (PLoS) Medicine, was carried out by two respected medical experts who have both campaigned against torture. Dr Vincent Iacopino, from the University of Minnesota School of Medicine, is senior medical adviser to the non-profit organisation Physicians for Human Rights and retired brigadier general Dr Stephen Xenakis served 28 years in the US Army medical corps.

Together they scrutinised medical records, case files and legal affidavits, including declarations by medical experts looking for evidence of torture and ill-treatment.

Their paper concludes: "The findings in these nine cases indicate that medical doctors and mental health personnel assigned to the US Department of Defense neglected and/or concealed medical evidence of intentional harm. The full extent of medical complicity in US torture practises will not be known until there is a thorough, impartial investigation including relevant classified information."

In all cases, medical assessments showed that the allegations of torture and ill-treatment were supported by physical and psychological evidence. There was no evidence of deception by the detainees, who provided "highly consistent" accounts of torture and abuse.

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