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THE CONFLICT IN IRAQ

3 Charges Dismissed in Case of Iraq Prison Abuse Suspect

August 26, 2004|From Associated Press

MANNHEIM, Germany — Military prosecutors on Wednesday dismissed three charges against a suspect in the abuse of prisoners at the Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq, significantly reducing the amount of jail time she could face if convicted.

Two counts of cruelty and maltreatment and one of conspiracy had been added after the investigation of Spc. Megan Ambuhl was completed, a step that her lawyers argued was improper and could add three years of prison time.

The prosecutor, Capt. Christopher Graveline, said at a pretrial hearing Wednesday that the government had decided not to go ahead with the new counts.

Ambuhl, of Centreville, Va., faces a possible 7 1/2 years in prison if convicted of the remaining counts of conspiracy, dereliction of duty, cruelty and maltreatment and indecent acts.

The hearing made it clear that she is mainly accused of failing to intervene or report abuse at the Abu Ghraib prison near Baghdad, where she was a military police officer.

Her military defense attorney, Capt. Jennifer Crawford, asked the court to approve a civilian prison psychologist as an expert witness. She said such an expert could help convince a jury that the conditions at the prison might have affected her client's judgment.

The judge, Col. James L. Pohl, did not approve her request for the specific expert, but said that if the government could not provide an acceptable military counterpart in the coming weeks he would reconsider the motion.

The rulings came on the last of three days of pretrial hearings held at a U.S. military base in Mannheim, where they were moved from Baghdad on a one-time basis.

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