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Sergeant in Fullerton Unit Jailed in Iraq Abuse Case

From Associated Press

A California Army National Guard sergeant has been discharged and sentenced to a year in military confinement for abusing detainees in Iraq, authorities said Friday.

Sgt. David Fimon, 26, pleaded guilty to multiple charges Monday during a court-martial in Baghdad that stemmed from allegations that 12 soldiers with Fullerton-based Alpha Company 1st Battalion of the 184th Infantry Regiment abused prisoners, said Lt. Col. Robert Whetstone, a Task Force Baghdad spokesman.

The counts -- maltreatment of detainees, conspiracy to commit maltreatment of detainees, dereliction of duty and obstruction of justice -- were heard in a mid-level court called a special court-martial, Whetstone said.

Special courts-martial are also underway for two other men in the Fullerton unit. They are scheduled to finish before next week.

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Fimon, of San Diego County’s Poway area, will lose a year’s salary and be demoted to private. Because he received a bad-conduct discharge, he is not entitled to many customary veteran’s benefits, Whetstone said.

He will serve his sentence in the United States.

“The California National Guard practices and supports the standards of conduct established for all military personnel. We do not tolerate or condone behavior that is inconsistent with those standards,” the National Guard said in a statement.

A message left at a residence listed under Fimon’s last name in Poway was not returned Friday.

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The specific allegations have not been disclosed, but investigators have reviewed accusations that soldiers used an electric stun gun to abuse handcuffed and blindfolded detainees, according to a military official who asked to remain anonymous because of policies against speaking publicly about ongoing cases.

Soldiers allegedly abused the detainees following an insurgent attack in June, the official said.

Alpha Company 1st Battalion comprises roughly 130 soldiers. Some face charges of mistreatment of a detainee, assault and making a false statement.

Authorities withdrew the charges in two of the dozen cases, but those soldiers face penalties that might include lost pay and restricted duty, Whetstone said.

According to Whetstone, of the remaining 10 cases:

* Five involve a so-called summary court-martial, which hears lesser offenses; two of those have been completed.

* In two cases, authorities are deciding whether to convene a general court-martial, reserved for the most serious offenses.

* Of three special courts-martial, only Fimon’s has been completed.

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