Convicted Abu Ghraib Army Dog Handler Redeployed to Iraq

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An Army dog handler convicted of abusing detainees at Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq has returned to the country with his military police unit, a spokesman said Thursday.

Sgt. Santos A. Cardona boarded a plane Monday at Pope Air Force Base, which is adjacent to Fort Bragg, for the trip to Iraq.

Cardona is assigned to the 23rd Military Police Company, said Maj. James Crabtree, a spokesman for the 18th Airborne Corps, which is headquartered at Fort Bragg.

Crabtree said it wasn't known exactly what Cardona's job would be. The unit will focus on law enforcement, detainee operations and route security and to a lesser extent training Iraqi police.

"We don't know what he will be doing," Crabtree said. "We don't normally discuss individuals who will be deploying overseas. We speak in terms of units."

A military jury at Fort Meade, Md., sentenced Cardona in June to 90 days of hard labor with no prison time. He was convicted of using his dog to threaten a former Baath Party member at the prison.

Cardona also was reduced in rank, given a pay cut and ordered to give up $600 a month for a year. He was sent back to his unit at Fort Bragg, where his company commander was to decide what duties to assign as hard labor, said a military lawyer after the sentencing.

He was one of 11 soldiers convicted of crimes related to prisoner abuses at the prison late in 2003 and early in 2004. He was convicted of dereliction of duty and aggravated assault after he was accused of letting his shepherd dog bark inches from the face of a prisoner kneeling in front of him.