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US soldiers abused Iraqis 'for fun,' court told
Updated: 2004-08-04 08:42

US troops who abused Iraqi prisoners at Abu Ghraib prison did it "just for fun," a military investigator testified on Tuesday in a hearing for a female soldier photographed holding a naked Iraqi on a leash.

Pfc. Lynndie England, visibly pregnant, appeared on the opening day of the military-court hearing, which will determine whether she will be tried for the prisoner abuse that outraged the Arab world.

Lynndie England (C) arrives with her legal council in Fayetteville, NC for her Article 32 investigation hearing. England is charged with several counts, including conspiring to maltreat an Iraqi detainee, three counts of assault against Iraqis, and several other crimes. [AFP]
England wore a camouflage uniform, black boots and beret as she entered the Fort Bragg courthouse moments before the hearing began, ignoring dozens of media cameras and reporters. Inside the courtroom, she answered "Yes Ma'am" and "No Ma'am" to simple questions from Col. Denise Arn, the investigating officer, about the charges.

England did not appear in court for the afternoon session. Her lawyer said she had made an unscheduled visit to the doctor but would not discuss her condition.

Chief Warrant Officer Paul Arthur, the lead investigator into the Abu Ghraib abuse, told the court England said in a sworn statement in January that one of her superiors, Spc. Charles Graner, put a leash on a naked Iraqi prisoner and told her to pose for the infamous photograph.

But in an effort to shoot down defense claims that the abusers were acting on orders from above, Capt. Crystal Jennings, the lead prosecutor, asked if Arthur had determined why the troops had abused the prisoners.

"Basically it was just for fun ... and to vent their frustration," Arthur said.


England, 21, was charged along with six other US military police reservists in a scandal that prompted an apology from President George W Bush, who placed the blame on a small group of soldiers.

England has said she was following orders when she appeared in the pictures, which also included one in which she pointed at a prisoner's genitals, a cigarette dangling from her lips.

Pfc. Lynndie England (L) walks with her mother Terri England at Fort Bragg in North Carolina, August 3, 2004. A military court at Fort Bragg, North Carolina, convened to decide whether Pfc. England will be tried for the prisoner abuse that outraged the Arab world and embarrassed the Bush administration as it sought to stabilize Iraq.[Reuters]

England returned from Iraq after becoming pregnant and is due to give birth in the fall. Media reports have said Graner, who is also charged with prisoner abuse, is the father, but her lawyers declined to confirm that.

Special Agent Warren Worth, another military criminal investigator, said he found no evidence that orders came from higher in the chain of command than Graner and Staff Sgt. Ivan Frederick, another of the seven soldiers charged.

But England's lawyer, Capt. Jonathan Crisp, repeatedly asked Worth what role military intelligence personnel had played in the abuse, as he sought to bolster the notion that troops were urged to rough up prisoners before questioning.

"Some of the soldiers alluded to military intelligence possibly saying to 'give them the treatment' or soften them up," Worth said.

Most of the abused prisoners had no military intelligence value, Worth said. The Pentagon has denied sanctioning rough treatment.

Worth said more than 1,000 photographs had been found on CDs and computers and about 280 had evidence of prisoner abuse. He described the widely publicized "naked pyramid" of prisoners, photos of prisoners being forced to masturbate, of a prisoner who was bitten by a military dog and others of England and Graner engaged in sex acts.

The two witnesses said England never raised any objections to the treatment of the prisoners.

Defense lawyer Richard Hernandez told a news conference that Tuesday's testimony bolstered his belief that the Abu Ghraib abuse was part of a wider pattern of US military behavior.

"All of the information out there points to a systemic problem," he said. "These tactics are being used at places my client has never been."

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