Judge lets in 'joking around, having fun' statements by soldier accused of abusing Iraqi prisoners
Friday, December 3rd 2004, 8:42 am
By: News On 6
FORT BRAGG, N.C. (AP) _ Prosecutors in the court-martial of Pfc. Lynndie England may use two statements she gave describing the posing of naked Iraqi prisoners as ``joking around, having fun,'' a military judge has ruled.
Defense attorneys had sought to keep out the January statements, saying England was coerced by military interrogators who pulled her out of bed in the middle of the night, kept her in closed rooms for hours and failed to fully inform her of her right to have a lawyer present.
The judge, Col. Stephen Henley, did agree Thursday to keep out a third statement that England made to investigators on May 5, a few weeks after the photos taken at Baghdad's Abu Ghraib prison were made public and England had invoked her right to an attorney.
But Henley found that England knew what she was doing when she waived her right to an attorney and spoke during the earlier interviews.
The rulings came on the second day of a hearing on pretrial motions in England's court-martial, which is scheduled for Jan. 18.
The 22-year-old Army reservist from Fort Ashby, W.Va., faces 19 charges of abuse and indecent acts. She could get 38 years in prison if convicted.
The defense has argued that England and others in her Maryland-based 372nd Military Police Company were acting on orders from military intelligence to ``soften up'' prisoners for interrogations by keeping them nude and humiliating them. But Army investigators testified during hearings this summer that England said the abuse was nothing more than ``joking around, having fun.''
England was one of seven members of the 372nd charged with humiliating and assaulting prisoners at the Baghdad prison.
Also Thursday, the judge put off until Dec. 22 a hearing on a defense request that he throw out the evidence at the heart of the case _ the photographs showing England and others piling naked detainees in a human pyramids, pointing at their genitals and holding a hooded, naked detainee by a leash.
The defense has suggested that the photos may have been doctored.