4th soldier to be court-martialed in abuse

Guard at Abu Ghraib is member of Md. unit

May 15, 2004|By Peter Hermann | Peter Hermann,SUN FOREIGN STAFF

BAGHDAD, Iraq - A fourth U.S. soldier is to be court-martialed in connection with the abuse of Iraqi detainees at Abu Ghraib prison, a military official announced yesterday.

Cpl. Charles A. Graner Jr., 35, of Uniontown, Pa., is charged with seven offenses, including dereliction of duty, failing to protect detainees from abuse and cruelty, committing an indecent act, obstruction of justice and assault. The Army has also charged Graner with adultery because of his involvement with another guard charged in connection with the abuse.

Graner was charged after other soldiers identified him as a leader of the abuse, which was photographed one night in November but might have gone on for weeks or months inside the prison wing that housed detainees whom the U.S. military regarded as "high value."

As a civilian, Graner was a corrections officer, most recently at State Correctional Institution Greene, a Pennsylvania maximum-security prison. He was fired from that job for reasons that remain unclear.

Lawyers for the accused soldiers, including Graner, have said their clients were ordered to mistreat prisoners by military intelligence officers and private contractors hired to assist in interrogations.

In an army report on the abuse, Spc. Sabrina Harman is quoted as telling investigators that Graner and another soldier had the job "to do things for MI and OGA [other governmental agencies] to get these people to talk."

A civilian contractual translator, Adel L. Nakhla, told investigators that Graner "ordered the guys while questioning them to admit what they did."

The courts-martial of Graner and Sgts. Javal S. Davis and Ivan L. "Chip" Frederick II have not been scheduled. A fourth soldier, Spc. Jeremy C. Sivits, is scheduled to be tried Wednesday, when he is expected to plead guilty. All four are members of the 372nd Military Police Company, based near Cumberland.

In one of the written charges against Graner, he is accused of telling Sivits that he should pretend not to have seen the abuses he witnessed at the prison.

Maj. Gen. Mark Kimmitt, the U.S. military spokesman in Iraq, said Graner, Frederick and Davis would be arraigned at public hearings here Thursday, when they will enter pleas of guilty or non-guilty. It has not been determined whether three other soldiers charged in the abuse scandal will be court-martialed.

Sivits, who is accused of taking one photograph and assisting in the abuse in a marginal way, faces what is called a special court-martial, which limits the maximum penalty to fines, a bad-conduct discharge and no more than one year in prison. The others face general courts-martial, which allow more severe punishment.

Graner is prominent in photographs showing naked, hooded Iraqi detainees being forced into humiliating positions.

In one, a bespectacled Graner stands behind a pile of naked detainees, smiling with his arms folded and giving the thumbs-up sign with his right hand. Kneeling in front of him is Pfc. Lynndie R. England, her head peering above the pile.

Graner's family has said that he had a romantic relationship with England, who is pregnant and has been transferred to Fort Bragg, N.C. She is also charged in the abuse scandal, but her case has not been referred to a court-martial.

The Army's charge sheet against Graner says he photographed a detainee being dragged by England with a leash around his neck.

He is also accused of having "willfully failed to protect detainees from abuse, cruelty and maltreatment"; maltreating detainees by placing them in human pyramids; ordering detainees to strip and masturbate in front of other detainees; and ordering detainees to simulate oral sex.

He is also charged with unlawfully striking detainees by jumping on them, stomping on their hands and bare feet, and using a metal baton to strike the open wound of a detainee.

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