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Pfc. England won't fight Abu Ghraib charges

Pfc. Lynndie England on Tuesday surrendered her right to challenge the seven charges she faces in the Abu Ghraib prison abuse scandal, setting the state for a new military trial.
/ Source: The Associated Press

Pfc. Lynndie England on Tuesday surrendered her right to challenge the seven charges she faces as a result of the Abu Ghraib prison abuse scandal, moving her one step closer to a new military trial.

Her defense attorney, Capt. Jonathan Crisp, would not provide details as to why he decided not to go forward with the Article 32 hearing — the military equivalent of a grand jury proceeding. He said only that it was part of an evolving trial strategy.

Now the decision on England’s charges goes to Lt. Gen. Thomas Metz, Fort Hood’s commanding general. He’ll decide whether she’ll face any or all of the charges.

England, who appeared in some of the most notorious photographs from the 2003 scandal and whose guilty plea was rejected by a judge this month, could face up to 11 years in prison. She faces two counts of conspiracy to maltreat detainees, four counts of maltreatment and one count of committing an indecent act.

In one photograph, the 22-year-old reservist held a leash looped around the neck of a hooded, naked prisoner. Another showed her next to nude prisoners stacked in a pyramid, while a third depicted England pointing at a prisoner’s genitals as a cigarette dangled from her lips.

Crisp said earlier that his client has been emotionally drained by her long legal fight, particularly after her guilty plea was abruptly thrown out on May 4.

“She was real upset the first week or two,” Crisp said. “She’s still in the same position she was before (the deal) and she wants to move on with the next stage of her life.”

Under military law, the judge could formally accept England’s guilty plea only if he was convinced that she knew at the time that what she was doing was illegal.

Pvt. Charles Graner, serving 10 years for his mistreatment of Iraqi detainees, told the judge that pictures he took of England holding the leash were meant to be used as a training aid for other guards. But England had told the judge when she entered her plea that the pictures were being taken purely for the amusement of the guards.

Graner had been named as a possible defense witness at the Article 32 hearing, which had been scheduled to start Tuesday.