- The Washington Times - Friday, August 19, 2005

FORT BLISS, Texas (AP) — A military jury spared an Army reservist jail time but reduced his rank yesterday for assaulting a prisoner who later died at a detention center in Afghanistan.

Prosecutors had asked that Pfc. Willie V. Brand, 27, be sent to a military prison for 10 years with a dishonorable discharge. Instead, the panel reduced his rank to private.

A relieved Brand hugged his attorney.

A commander reviews military jury decisions but cannot impose a more serious penalty.

Brand was convicted Wednesday of assault, maltreatment, maiming and making a false official statement in connection with an attack on a detainee known as Dilawar in December 2002.

The jury acquitted Brand of charges that he abused a second detainee. Both prisoners died just days after arriving at the detention center at Bagram airfield north of Afghanistan’s capital, Kabul.

Homicide charges against Brand, who served in the 337th Military Police Company, were dropped earlier this year.

The Army reservist’s attorney had argued that the conviction alone was punishment that Brand will carry the rest of his life. John P. Galligan asked the military jury to give Brand a bad-conduct discharge and let him return to his financially struggling family.

Brand was not discharged. He could have been sentenced to up to 16 years in military prison.

Defense attorneys argued that the reservist military police officer was poorly trained and not ready for war when deployed to Afghanistan. Mr. Galligan also argued that those above Brand in the chain of command should be held liable for any abuses before Brand.

“Don’t ask that he be a better leader than those who led him,” Mr. Galligan said.

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