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Archive for Monday, September 19, 2005

Lynndie England plans to fight abuse charges

September 19, 2005

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— Army Pfc. Lynndie England will abandon her earlier courtroom strategy and fight charges that she was a key participant in detainee abuse at Iraq's Abu Ghraib prison, her lawyer said.

The 22-year-old reservist, who appears in a series of graphic photos taken inside Abu Ghraib, was to go on trial today at Fort Hood, Texas, on seven counts of mistreating prisoners.

She will be the last of a group of junior enlisted soldiers charged with Abu Ghraib abuses to have their cases resolved. Two have been convicted at trial, while six others made plea deals and received prison sentences of up to eight years.

Three months after England's attempt at a plea agreement fell apart, her lead defense lawyer, Capt. Jonathan Crisp, said "there's not going to be a deal."

Crisp said he will focus on the influence exerted over England by Pvt. Charles Graner, the reputed abuse ringleader.

England pleaded guilty in May to conspiracy, maltreating detainees and committing an indecent act in exchange for a sentencing cap. The charges carry a maximum of 11 years.

But judge Col. James Pohl abruptly threw out the deal and declared a mistrial during the sentencing phase when testimony by Graner contradicted England's guilty plea.

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