BAGHDAD - Many Iraqis reacted angrily on Sunday to news that U.S. soldier Charles Graner had been sentenced to 10 years in jail for his role in prisoner abuse at Abu Ghraib jail, saying he should have faced harsher punishment.
But struggling to cope with daily violence, crime, and fuel and food shortages, and fearing more bloodshed ahead of Jan. 30 elections, most said they had paid little attention to Graner's court martial.
Some said members of Saddam Hussein's regime responsible for torture and killing at the notorious prison west of Baghdad before the U.S.-led invasion should also be brought to justice.
"It's too little. This isn't justice," trader Ali Ahmed, 23, said of Graner's sentence.
"Even capital punishment isn't enough. But since it's forbidden to torture him the way he tortured the prisoners, I would have settled for the death penalty."
A military jury in Fort Hood, Texas, sentenced Graner on Saturday to 10 years' imprisonment for his leading role in the torture of Iraqi prisoners at Abu Ghraib, five years less than the maximum sentence possible.
The sentencing came a day after a jury convicted Graner on 10 counts related to the abuses, many of which were documented in photographs that included naked prisoners stacked into a pyramid and being forced to masturbate.
But Iraqi newspapers had only limited coverage of the court martial and many Iraqis said they had not been following it.
OUTRAGE OVER ABUSE
"As an ex-soldier, I admit that no army is perfect," said 38-year-old meteorologist Ali Mahawi.
"It isn't just the American army that has these things. We had abuse that happened in our army," he said. But he added that he did not think the sentence was sufficient:
"I think 10 years isn't much and a stronger sentence would have produced a more effective deterrent."
Even before the scandal of U.S. abuse at Abu Ghraib erupted, the prison had a grim reputation because many of Saddam's enemies were jailed, tortured and killed there.
Some Iraqis said that should not be forgotten.
"The abuse in Abu Ghraib prison was far worse under Saddam. I don't blame a foreign army ending up abusing Iraqis because they don't care about us, but it hurts me to know that Iraqis were abusing Iraqis with the most horrific torture and it's those I want to see brought to justice," said Salih al-Jubouri, a 33-year-old unemployed man.
He said two of his brothers were tortured during Saddam's rule.
The U.S. prison abuse scandal helped turn many Iraqis who initially welcomed the overthrow of Saddam against the foreign troops who removed him from power.
Some Iraqis said the best punishment was for Graner to suffer the same treatment he subjected others to.
"The torture in Saddam's time was worse than this, but this was also quite bad," said Ahmed Ali, 20, a van driver from Baghdad's Shi'ite Sadr City district.
"What use is 10 years when he humiliated other humans? They should use on him the same torture methods he used on others."
© 2005 Reuters Ltd