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Archive for Saturday, April 30, 2005

Abu Ghraib reservist to plead guilty

April 30, 2005

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— Army Pfc. Lynndie England, the woman seen holding an Iraqi prisoner on a leash in the iconic photo from Abu Ghraib prison, will plead guilty to seven charges stemming from abuse of prisoners there, her lawyer said Friday.

With a general court-martial scheduled to begin Monday at Fort Hood, Texas, England agreed Friday to a plea bargain, said defense attorney Rick Hernandez. The deal will reduce the maximum sentence she faces to 11 years in prison. On Monday, England will make a personal appeal to a military jury for a lighter sentence.

Army prosecutors agreed to drop two of nine charges against England, the lawyer said. If convicted on all the original charges, she could have faced 16 1/2 years' imprisonment.

The 22-year-old reservist from rural Fort Ashby, W.Va., will plead to two counts of conspiracy, four counts of maltreating prisoners and one count of dereliction of duty, Hernandez said.

She will be the seventh enlisted soldier to face criminal penalties in the Abu Ghraib case. No commissioned officers at the prison, and no senior officer in the chain of command, have been charged in the case.

The prisoner abuse became an international scandal a year ago with the release of scores of photographs that showed Iraqi prisoners, some of them naked, hooded and shackled, being taunted and harassed by U.S. Army prison guards and snarling dogs.

Defense lawyers had argued that England, a records clerk who had no training as a prison guard when the Army sent her to Iraq's toughest prison, was following orders of officers and CIA agents at the prison when she took part in the prison abuse.

But the just-following-orders defense has not worked for other soldiers charged with prisoner abuse at Abu Ghraib. Six enlisted soldiers have entered guilty pleas in the case.

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