April 30, 2005 in City

England to plead guilty to Abu Ghraib abuses

T.A. Badger Associated Press
 
The Spokesman-Review photo

England
(Full-size photo)

SAN ANTONIO – Pfc. Lynndie England will plead guilty to abusing Iraqi detainees in Abu Ghraib prison, her lawyer said Friday, months after photos of her sexually humiliating inmates made her the face of a scandal that damaged the credibility of the U.S. military.

England will plead guilty in a military court Monday to seven of the nine counts against her: two counts of conspiracy, four counts of maltreating prisoners and one count of dereliction of duty, said Rick Hernandez, her civilian lawyer.

England, a 22-year-old Army reservist who was a clerk at the Baghdad-area prison, was scheduled to go to trial Tuesday at Fort Hood.

Hernandez said the plea deal was reached Friday afternoon during a meeting with military prosecutors at Fort Hood.

“This is in her best interests,” he said.

One count of committing indecent acts and one count of failure to obey a lawful order will be dismissed, Hernandez said. That will drop the maximum sentence she faces from 16½ years to 11 years, he said.

England, from Fort Ashby, W.Va., was one of seven members of the Maryland-based 372nd Military Police Company charged with humiliating and assaulting prisoners at the prison near Baghdad. She became a focal point of the scandal about a year ago after photos of her surfaced, include one that showed her smiling and posing with nude prisoners stacked in a pyramid.

In one notorious photo from the prison, England is shown holding a hooded, naked Iraqi prisoner on a leash. In another she is smiling and pointing at a naked detainee’s genitals while a cigarette dangles from the corner of her mouth.

Her lawyers had argued England and others in her unit were acting on orders from military intelligence to “soften up” prisoners for interrogations. But Army investigators testified during hearings last summer that England said the reservists took the photos while “they were joking around, having some fun.”

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