KCNC-TV via AP file
Pfc. Lynndie England
updated 8/2/2004 6:20:21 PM ET 2004-08-02T22:20:21

Lawyers for Army Reserve Pfc. Lynndie England said she is being used as a scapegoat in the Iraqi prison abuse scandal, and they hope a military hearing this week will allow them to question higher-ups they feel are responsible.

In a hearing set to begin Tuesday, England’s lawyers will make the case that the 21-year-old soldier was following orders when she was photographed mocking naked detainees at Abu Ghraib prison.

Photos made public in May show the petite Army reservist smiling and pointing at naked detainees, flashing a thumbs-up and, in one shot, holding a detainee on a dog leash. The pictures caused widespread outrage, particularly in the Arab world.

“The government has leveled their sights on Ms. England,” civilian defense lawyer Rhidian Orr said. “I feel that the U.S. government is taking full control of the issue and attacking Ms. England when she’s not necessarily to blame.”

Though potential witnesses include Vice President Dick Cheney, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and top generals, military officials say it is doubtful they will appear.

England, 21, of Fort Ashby, W.Va., is charged with abusing prisoners, disobeying an order and indecent acts. Six charges stem from “the creation and possession of sexually explicit photographs.” Army officials have said those photographs do not involve Iraqi prisoners.

The maximum total sentence is 38 years in prison.

England is one of seven reservists charged in the Abu Ghraib scandal. Spc. Jeremy C. Sivits, has already pleaded guilty and been sentenced to a year in prison.

Another soldier in England’s unit, Spec. Charles A. Graner Jr., also has been charged with abuses. He was involved in a romantic relationship with England and faces adultery charges.

England was visibly pregnant in court last month, and her lawyers have said the child is Graner’s. She has been assigned to a desk job at Fort Bragg since she returning to the United States.

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