- The Washington Times - Tuesday, September 27, 2005

FORT HOOD, Texas (AP) — Army Pfc. Lynndie England, whose smiling poses in photos of detainee abuse at Iraq’s Abu Ghraib prison made her the face of the scandal, was convicted yesterday by a military jury on six of seven counts.

England, 22, was found guilty of one count of conspiracy, four counts of maltreating detainees and one count of committing an indecent act. She was acquitted on a second conspiracy count.

The jury of five male Army officers took about two hours to reach its verdict. England’s case now moves into the sentencing phase, which will be heard by the same jury starting today. She faces a maximum nine years in prison.

England, wearing her dark green dress uniform, stood at attention as the verdict was read by the jury foreman. She showed no obvious emotion afterward.

Asked for comment after the verdict, defense attorney Capt. Jonathan Crisp said, “The only reaction I can say is, ‘I understand.’”

England’s trial is the last for a group of nine Army reservists — including three from Virginia — charged with mistreating prisoners at Abu Ghraib, a scandal that badly damaged the U.S. image in the Muslim world despite quick condemnation of the abuse by President Bush.

Two other soldiers were convicted in trials, and the remaining six made plea deals. Several of those soldiers testified at England’s trial.

Prosecutors used graphic photos of England to support their contention that she was a key figure in the abuse conspiracy. One photo shows England holding a naked detainee on a leash. In other photos, she smiles and points to prisoners in humiliating poses.

They also pointed to her statement to Army investigators in January 2004 that the mistreatment was an act of amusement for the American guards at Abu Ghraib.

“The accused knew what she was doing,” said Capt. Chris Graveline, the lead prosecutor. “She was laughing and joking. … She is enjoying, she is participating, all for her own sick humor.”

Capt. Crisp countered that England was only trying to please her soldier boyfriend, Cpl. Charles Graner Jr., whom prosecutors called the abuse ringleader.

“She was a follower; she was an individual who was smitten with Graner,” Capt. Crisp said. “She just did whatever he wanted her to do.”

Late yesterday, Col. James Pohl, the presiding judge, rejected a request by Capt. Crisp to allow testimony during the sentencing phase by an Army captain who has reported similar prisoner abuse by other U.S. soldiers at a camp near Fallujah about the same time as the Abu Ghraib incidents.

Capt. Crisp said testimony by Capt. Ian Fishback would provide evidence of a command breakdown in Iraq that might have led England and other soldiers to think military leaders condoned detainee mistreatment.

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