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Prosecutors Set to Wrap Up Graner Case

By: Associated Press
By: Associated Press

Army prosecutors were expected to wrap up their case against Spc. Charles Graner Jr. on Tuesday with videotaped testimony from two Iraqi detainees at Abu Ghraib when Graner allegedly mistreated prisoners there.

A third Iraqi detainee may also present recorded testimony as part of Graner's defense in the first trial arising from the Abu Ghraib scandal, which was fueled by a series of graphic photographs taken inside the Baghdad prison.

Testimony resumed Tuesday with Army investigators identifying photos related to the scandal.

Seven soldiers testified Monday, among them the three guards from the 372nd Military Police Company who have pleaded guilty to abusing detainees in late 2003.

Their plea deals required them to take the stand as prosecution witnesses against Graner, a 36-year-old Army reservist described as the Abu Ghraib ringleader.

Some of their testimony, however, seemed to bolster Graner's defense that he was following orders to soften up detainees for interrogation by military and civilian intelligence officers who were in charge of the section of the prison where he worked.

Pvt. Ivan "Chip" Frederick, once a staff sergeant, testified that he and the other guards, including Graner, took orders mostly from intelligence officers who encouraged rough treatment of detainees as a way to extract useful information.

He said the guards received no training in handling prisoners with intelligence value, and that their actions were not closely supervised.

"Who directed you in your day-to-day activities?" asked Col. James Pohl, the judge.

"Nobody, really," responded Frederick, who is serving an eight-year sentence for his actions at Abu Ghraib.

Defense lawyer Guy Womack said his side was pleased with the testimony offered by Frederick and the other two accused co-conspirators, Pvt. Jeremy Sivits and ex-soldier Megan Ambuhl.

"We got everything in that we felt the judge would allow," Womack said.

Graner, a former prison guard from Uniontown, Pa., is charged with conspiracy to maltreat Iraqi detainees, assault, dereliction of duty and committing indecent acts.

An all-male jury of four Army officers and six senior enlisted men will decide his fate in what is expected to be a weeklong trial. If convicted on all counts, he faces up to 17 1/2 years in a military prison.

Under military law, a conviction requires guilty votes by seven of the 10 jurors.

Capt. Chuck Neill, a spokesman for prosecutors, said the Abu Ghraib detainees recorded their depositions via videoteleconference in December. He did not identify the detainees by name or offer specific details about their testimony.

Witnesses on Monday told the jury that Graner knocked an Iraqi inmate unconscious with a punch in the head and that he laughed while forcing prisoners to pose naked.

Asked how hard Graner hit the prisoner on a scale of one to 10, Sivits said, "Seven or eight. Obviously he had to hit him pretty hard to knock him out"

One of the charges against Graner is that he took part in a Nov. 7, 2003, incident in which detainees were forced to masturbate as a group. But Frederick, who admitted initiating that incident, testified that Graner was on another floor of the prison at the time.

Sivits, however, told jurors that Graner was not only there, but that the defendant photographed a simulated oral sex scene.

Sivits also said Graner was responsible for stacking naked prisoners into the human pyramid with which he later posed for pictures.

"He was trying to get the job done, but he was also laughing and having a good time," Sivits said.


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