Image: Sabrina Harman, center.
Jana Birchum  /  Getty Images
Specialist Sabrina Harman, center, accompanied by her military attorney, Captain Patsy Takemura, left, leaves her courts-martial in shackles after having been convicted of prisoner abuse at Iraq's Abu Ghraib jail, in Fort Hood, Texas, on Tuesday.
updated 5/18/2005 7:12:10 AM ET 2005-05-18T11:12:10

An Army reservist who appeared in several of the most infamous abuse photos taken by guards at Abu Ghraib prison was sentenced Tuesday to six months in prison for her role in the scandal that rocked the U.S. military’s image at home and abroad.

The sentence for Spc. Sabrina Harman came a day after she was convicted on six of the seven counts she faced for mistreating detainees at the Baghdad lockup in late 2003. She faced a maximum of five years, though prosecutors asked the jury to give her three years. The defense requested she serve no time.

With credit for time served, Harman’s actual sentence is just more than four months.

Earlier Tuesday, Harman stood before the jury in the sentencing phase of her court-martial and tearfully apologized for mistreating Iraqi prisoners at Abu Ghraib.

“As a soldier I failed in my duties and in my mission,” Harman said, her voice cracking. “Not only did I let down the people in Iraq, I let down every single soldier that serves today.”

Harman, 27, appeared in several of the most notorious photos taken at Abu Ghraib, including one of naked Iraqis piled up in a pyramid.

Among other things, she was found guilty of taking part in an incident in which a hooded Iraqi was threatened with electrocution and photographed standing on a box and holding wires.

Witnesses come to her defense
Earlier Tuesday, witnesses testified that the former pizza shop manager from Lorton, Va., was kindhearted and helpful while serving in an Iraqi city.

When other U.S. soldiers just wanted to sit in the shade after a long workday, Harman ran around in the hot sun, playing games with Iraqi children, witnesses said.

Much of the defense testimony during sentencing focused on her behavior while at the Iraqi city of Hillah, where the 372nd Military Police Company was based for several months before moving to Abu Ghraib.

Two Iraqi prisoners at Abu Ghraib, whose testimony was read into the record, said Harman’s gentle treatment was unique among the guards in the part of the prison reserved mostly for detainees believed to have intelligence value.

“She has no cruelty in her,” said Amjad Ismail Khalil al-Taie through an interpreter. “Even though she is an American woman, she was just like a sister.”

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