Pfc. Lynndie England, the Army reservist at the center of the Abu Ghraib prisoner abuse case, was read her rights in military court Monday and given a date of Aug. 3 for a hearing on whether she is to face a court-martial.
England appeared in court for the five-minute hearing, accompanied by her lead civilian lawyer, Rick Hernandez.
England answered “Yes, ma’am” when Col. Denise Arn, the military judge presiding over the case, asked if she understood her rights and “No, ma’am” when she was asked if she had any questions.
The hearing to determine whether England faces a court-martial, at which witnesses are to be called and evidence presented, was scheduled to begin Monday. But the defense requested a delay last week, which meant that the hearing Monday was only to deal with procedural matters.
Charges added last week
England, 21, is charged with 13 counts of abusing prisoners. Last week, an additional five charges were added against her, stemming from “the creation and possession of sexually explicit photographs” and indecent acts, according to the Army. The latest photographs do not involve Iraqi prisoners, the Army has said.
Army spokesman Maj. Richard Patterson said Monday that a sixth charge had also been added last week, accusing England of failing to obey an order from a non-commissioned officer.
Since being brought back to the United States, England, who is pregnant, has been assigned to a desk job at a military police brigade office at Fort Bragg.
Photos taken at the Abu Ghraib prison that were made public in May show the reservist from Fort Ashby, W.Va., pointing at naked detainees and flashing a cocky thumbs-up at the camera.
The photos enraged much of the Arab world and shocked many people in the United States.
Defense says she was following orders
England’s attorneys have said she was following orders when the prisoner photos were taken.
They have said their witness list of nearly 100 people would include Vice President Dick Cheney and Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, along with top generals.
England, a support specialist, is one of six soldiers charged in the scandal. One, Spc. Jeremy C. Sivits, has already pleaded guilty and been sentenced to a year in prison. All seven soldiers charged in the abuse scandal are from the 372nd Military Police Company, an Army Reserve unit from Cresaptown, Md.
Spec. Charles A. Graner Jr., 35, another soldier in England’s unit, also has been charged with abuses and was involved in a romantic relationship with England; he faces adultery charges for allegedly having sex with England last October.
Her lawyers have said England is pregnant with Graner’s child.