BAGHDAD, Iraq – The U.S. military is investigating a detainee's death this week at Baghdad's notorious Abu Ghraib (search) prison, the U.S. command said Thursday.
The prisoner appeared to have died of natural causes, but officials were awaiting the results of an autopsy, the military said in a statement.
Detainees told prison guards early Monday that the 42-year-old inmate "appeared to be suffering a medical problem," the statement said. Medics rushed him to a prison hospital, where he was pronounced dead.
The man, who was not identified, had been held since May because he was believed to be "an imperative threat for attacks against coalition forces," the military said. It said he had not been interrogated since his arrival.
"An investigation was initiated to determine the precise cause of death, which is standing procedure for all detainees who die while in custody of coalition forces," the statement said.
After the autopsy, the man's remains will be handed over to the International Committee of the Red Cross (search), and then to Iraq's interim government.
An international outcry about abuse at Abu Ghraib was set off when CBS aired photos from the prison on April 28. Months before that, the Red Cross had complained to the U.S. military about treatment of prisoners in Iraq and an internal military investigation also found problems.
U.S. soldiers have been photographed smiling and flashing a thumbs up as they posed next to an inmate in a body bag at Abu Ghraib. The two soldiers pictured are facing charges in the scandal.
One soldier, Spc. Jeremy C. Sivits (search), was sentenced to a maximum penalty of one year in prison in the first court-martial linked to the case.
Three others charged with abusing inmates will appear at a military court in Baghdad on Monday for pretrial hearings.
On Monday, about 400 prisoners were released from the grim detention center on the outskirts of Baghdad. The release was the fifth large batch so far.