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Hard labour for Abu Ghraib Dog Handler
June 2, 2006

Sgt Santos Cardona, 32, was instead sentenced to 90 days' hard labour by the panel. He will also be demoted and will have his pay docked.

He was found guilty on two out of nine charges of abuse and dereliction of duty at the prison near Baghdad.

He is the 11th US soldier convicted in connection with abuse at Abu Ghraib.

The US military panel at Fort Meade military base outside Washington cleared Cardona of seven other charges of abuse, including a more serious charge of allowing his dog to bite another prisoner.

Cardona, who had faced up to three-and-a-half years behind bars, will also have $7,200 (£3,800) docked from his wages over the next year.

It was not immediately clear what sort of hard labour he will have to do.

Cardona's civilian lawyer, Harvey Volzer, was clearly pleased with the sentence.

"It wasn't an acquittal but it was pretty darn good," the Associated Press quoted him as saying.

The prosecution said Cardona had used his Belgian shepherd dog like "a weapon" and had tormented Iraqi prisoners for fun.

But the defence said he was only obeying orders from senior officers.

No senior officers have so far been convicted for the abuse at Abu Ghraib.

Original Text