Fort Hood, Texas A jury of 10 soldiers was selected Friday to decide whether the accused ringleader of the Abu Ghraib prisoner abuse scandal was illegally beating inmates or following orders to soften up the detainees for interrogation.
Opening statements begin Monday in the court-martial of Spc. Charles Graner Jr., of Uniontown, Pa., the first soldier to be tried in the scandal.
Defense attorney Guy Womack has said he plans to argue Graner was ordered by higher-ranking soldiers and intelligence agents to soften up the detainees for interrogators, and had no choice but to obey. Graner's trial will be an important first test of that argument.
Graner's charges include conspiracy to maltreat Iraqi detainees, assault, dereliction of duty and committing indecent acts. He faces up to 17 1/2 years in a military prison if convicted on all counts.
Three more soldiers from the Maryland-based 372nd Military Police Company unit are awaiting trial at Fort Hood. Among them is Lynndie England, who in October gave birth to a child who Army prosecutors say was the result of a relationship with Graner.