updated 8/6/2004 4:00:15 PM ET 2004-08-06T20:00:15

The soldier who blew the whistle on colleagues who were abusing Iraqi prisoners at the Abu Ghraib prison testified Friday that he did so because he was outraged by photographs of detainees in sexually humiliating positions.

“It violated everything I believed in, rules of war. ... It was more of a moral call,” Sgt. Joseph Darby said during a pretrial hearing for Pfc. Lynndie England.

“It was a tough decision because these people were my friends,” said Darby, who was in the 372nd Military Police Company and, like England, was assigned to duties outside the secure area of the prison.

He said he received the now-notorious abuse photos on computer disks from Cpl. Charles Graner at the beginning of December. Darby said he wanted to see pictures of the aftermath of a prison riot that happened while he was on leave.

As he looked at the photos, “there was quite a large number of prisoners and poses with prisoners,” Darby testified by telephone. “I was kind of shocked and bewildered and didn't know what to do.”

He turned them over to the Army investigators Jan. 12, testifying that he knew Graner was a ringleader in the abuse and would be returning to the prison soon from another assignment.

“I decided I needed to turn them in now before he came back because I was concerned it was going to start again,” said Darby, who is from Cresaptown, Md., where the 372nd is based.

His tip led to charges against seven members of the unit, and the images outraged people around the world. The photos, first made public on a broadcast of CBS’s “60 Minutes II” in April, showed naked detainees stacked in human pyramids, posed in sexual positions, hooked to electrodes and, in one notorious shot with England, tethered to a leash.

A military judge is holding the hearing to decide whether England, 21, a reservist from Fort Ashby, W.Va., should face a military trial on 13 counts of abusing detainees and six counts stemming from possession of sexually explicit photos. If convicted, she could get up to 38 years in prison.

Reservist disputed testimony
Throughout the hearing, prosecutors have contended that England and some members of the 372nd were rogue soldiers who went outside the chain of command to abuse prisoners for retaliation and sport on the night shift at Abu Ghraib.

Defense lawyers, who planned to begin calling witnesses Friday, have said England posed in the photos on orders from military intelligence to “soften up” detainees for interrogators.

But another reservist, Kenneth A. Davis, a former sergeant in the 372nd, told The Associated Press this week that military intelligence officials led and directed the abuse. His account conflicts with testimony soldiers gave this week.

Davis’ account — which he made in a statement to Army investigators in May — makes him the first member of the unit who is not facing charges to publicly describe one of the episodes that led to criminal charges against others. No military intelligence personnel have been charged in the abuse, and their testimony at England’s hearing points to military police as the perpetrators.

Davis, 33, of Hagerstown, Md., said Friday that testimony given Thursday by Spc. Israel Rivera, an analyst with the 325th Military Intelligence Battalion, was “inaccurate.”

Rivera testified that he watched military police force detainees to crawl naked “low enough that their genitalia were rubbing on the floor, causing pain.” Rivera testified that he was disgusted by the abuse.

Davis gave a different account, blaming military intelligence soldiers. He and Rivera are among seven soldiers and a civilian interpreter photographed standing around three naked men shackled together on the floor of an Abu Ghraib corridor on Oct. 25. Davis said he happened upon the scene when he went looking for a soldier in a prison area where interrogations took place.

He said he found the soldier talking with Graner. Davis said he watched Spc. Armin J. Cruz and Spc. Roman Krol, also with the 325th Military Intelligence Battalion, handcuff two naked male detainees to the bars of two facing cells.

Davis said Cruz and Krol then handcuffed the naked men together face-to-face, forcing them to embrace while demanding that they confess to raping a boy in the prison. He said Cruz approached him and asked sarcastically, “Do you think we crossed the line?”

Davis said he replied, “I’m not sure — you are MI.” He said Cruz told him the men were being interrogated and said, “We know what we are doing.”

Davis said Rivera’s testimony “absolutely blows my mind.”

“It’s amazing he’s saying that because MI was laughing and pushing down in the middle of their backs,” he said Friday. He said he did not recall seeing any military police officers forcing inmates to crawl.

Opposing accounts
Rivera described parts of the same episode Thursday at England’s hearing and in a story June 4 in the Los Angeles Times. In the article, he implicated Cruz and Krol in the abuse but said military police officers initiated it.

Krol has denied engaging in improper conduct. Cruz did not respond to e-mailed requests for comment.

Davis returned to the United States in December for treatment of a groin injury. He received an honorable discharge for disability on July 28.

One member of the 372nd, Spc. Jeremy C. Sivits, has already pleaded guilty and has been sentenced to a year in prison. Graner also has been charged with abusing prisoners and adultery for allegedly having sex with England in October. England’s lawyers have said she is seven months pregnant with Graner’s child.

Among witnesses defense attorney Rick Hernandez said he wanted to testify were the former top commander in Iraq, Lt. Gen. Ricardo Sanchez, and Brig. Gen. Janis Karpinski, who ran the Abu Ghraib prison. The judge, Col. Denise Arn, was noncommittal and said the request would be handled later.

© 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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