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England to face prison abuse charges in May

Army Pfc. Lynndie England will go on trial May 3 facing charges of abusing Iraqi prisoners at Abu Ghraib, officials said Thursday.
A somber-looking Pfc. Lynndie England at Fort Bragg, N.C., in August.Chuck Burton / AP
/ Source: The Associated Press

Army Pfc. Lynndie England, the soldier shown in notorious photographs of Iraqi prisoners being humiliated, will go on trial May 3, officials said Thursday.

England, a 22-year-old reservist from Fort Ashby, W.Va., faces up to 16½ years in prison if convicted.

She is scheduled for a May 2 pretrial hearing to handle any last-minute issues, with jury selection in her general court-martial to begin the next day.

England is charged with two counts of conspiracy to maltreat detainees, one count of dereliction of duty, four counts of cruelty and maltreatment and two counts of committing indecent acts at the Abu Ghraib prison in 2003.

Infamous images
In one notorious photo from the prison, England is shown holding a hooded, naked Iraqi prisoner on a leash. In another she is smiling and pointing at a naked detainee’s genitals while a cigarette dangles from the corner of her mouth. A third image shows her posing with a group of detainees who had been stripped and stacked into a human pyramid.

The defense has argued England and others in her unit were acting on orders from military intelligence to “soften up” prisoners for interrogations.

But Army investigators testified during hearings last summer that England said the reservists took the photos while “they were joking around, having some fun.”

She would be only the second person to stand trial in the Abu Ghraib scandal.

Spc. Charles Graner Jr., the alleged ringleader of the abuse, was convicted on all charges earlier this year and sentenced to 10 years in prison. Graner and England were once lovers, and authorities believe he is the father of England’s newborn child.

Four guards and two low-level military intelligence officers have made plea deals in the case. Their sentences ranged from no time to 8 ½ years.