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England's Hearing Stalls on Request for Witnesses

The soldier's defense team wants to show that prisoner abuse in Iraq was approved higher up.

August 08, 2004|Richard A. Serrano | Times Staff Writer

FT. BRAGG, N.C. — The hearing into whether Army Lynndie England should be court-martialed in the Abu Ghraib scandal was abruptly postponed late Saturday afternoon after defense attorneys argued that another prison guard should be allowed to testify that military intelligence officers sponsored and carried out much of the abuse at the Iraqi prison.

England's lawyers also asked to present dozens of other defense witnesses, including Vice President Dick Cheney, members of the Army high command and two officers who ran the military intelligence operation at Abu Ghraib. The defense hopes to show that the torture and humiliation of detainees was condoned under the orders of military interrogators.

Col. Denise Arn, the Army investigating officer who is hearing the case and will recommend whether England should be court-martialed, said she needed more time to review the government's case and decide which, if any, of the defense witnesses she would hear when the session reconvenes.

It is unlikely she will allow many of the witnesses on the defense wish list, but there is a good likelihood that she will indulge the defense as it tries to spread much of the blame for the scandal up the Army's ranks.

For The Record
Los Angeles Times Monday August 09, 2004 Home Edition Main News Part A Page 2 National Desk 1 inches; 42 words Type of Material: Correction
Abu Ghraib hearing -- An article in Sunday's Section A omitted the rank of Lynndie England, whose hearing on whether she should be court-martialed in the Abu Ghraib prisoner abuse scandal was postponed. She is a private first class in the Army.

England is one of six low-level soldiers charged with assaulting and sexually humiliating detainees late last year. A seventh, Spec. Jeremy Sivits, has pleaded guilty, and Arn will permit him to testify.

On Friday, defense attorney Richard A. Hernandez of Denver announced that his team had learned that another military policeman, Sgt. Kenneth A. Davis, had given the government a sworn statement tying some of the intelligence unit members to the abuse.

His recollections would be significant because it would back up statements from other soldiers who testified last week that some intelligence officers engaged in the prison misconduct. However, no one in the intelligence brigade has been charged with a crime.

In his statement to government investigators in May, Davis said Spc. Armin Cruz and Spc. Roman Krol, two intelligence unit members, openly abused prisoners yet never were held accountable. He said they permitted naked detainees to be dragged across the floor in a humiliating episode last fall, according to portions of the statement read by Hernandez.

Davis also said in his statement, according to Hernandez, that he complained to his platoon leader, 1st. Lt. Lewis Raeder, about the behavior of military intelligence members.

But Davis said Raeder seemed unconcerned, telling him, "They are MI and they are in charge. Let them do their job."

The other key intelligence officers Hernandez wants to testify are Col. Thomas Pappas and Lt. Col. Steve Jordan, who together ran the intelligence operation at Abu Ghraib.

But a military prosecutor, Cpt. John Benson, objected to having Davis and the intelligence officers testify. He said the focus of the case should be on England and the charges against her, rather than on any conduct by intelligence officers who have not been criminally implicated in the case.

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