[Marxism] Judge throws out Lynndie Englund's guilty plea -- contradicts testimony of her boss
ffeldman at bellatlantic.net
Wed May 4 18:23:52 MDT 2005
Judge Throws Out England's Guilty Plea
By T.A. Badger
The Associated Press
Wednesday 04 May 2005
Fort Hood - A military judge Wednesday threw out Pfc. Lynndie
England's guilty plea to abusing Iraqi detainees at Abu Ghraib prison,
saying he was not convinced the Army reservist who appeared in some of
the most notorious photos in the scandal knew her actions were wrong at
The mistrial marks a stunning turn in the case and sends it back to
The case will be reviewed again by Fort Hood's commander, Lt. Gen.
Thomas Metz, who will decide what charges, if any, England should face.
If she is charged, the case would go back to a military equivalent of a
grand jury hearing, an Article 32 proceeding, prosecution spokesman
Capt. Cullen Sheppard said.
The military judge, Col. James Pohl, entered a plea of not guilty
for England on a charge of conspiring with Pvt. Charles Graner Jr. to
maltreat detainees at the Baghdad-area prison and a related charge.
The mistrial came after Graner, the reputed ringleader of the abuse,
testified as a defense witness at England's sentencing hearing that
pictures he took of England holding a naked prisoner on a leash at Abu
Ghraib were meant to be used as a legitimate training aid for other
Other photos showed England smiling while standing next to nude
prisoners stacked in a pyramid and pointing at a prisoner's genitals.
When England pleaded guilty Monday, she told the judge she knew that
the pictures were being taken purely for the amusement of the guards.
Pohl said her statement and Graner's could not be reconciled.
"You can't have a one-person conspiracy," the judge said before he
declared the mistrial and dismissed the sentencing jury.
Under military law, the judge could formally accept her guilty plea
only if he was convinced that she knew at the time that what she was
doing was illegal.
By rejecting the plea to the conspiracy charge, Pohl canceled the
entire plea agreement. The agreement had carried a maximum sentence of
11 years in prison, but the prosecution and defense had a deal that
capped the sentence at a lesser punishment; the length was not released.
Neither prosecution nor defense lawyers would speak to reporters
after the deal was discarded. England, shielded by her defense team,
would not comment outside the courtroom.
Allen Rudy, a Dallas attorney, said Wednesday he could not recall a
military plea being scrapped under such circumstances during his 25
years as a Navy lawyer and judge.
"That is a shocker," Rudy said. "But (Pohl) has to protect the
defendant in that situation. ... He has to make sure (England) wasn't
talked into it by her lawyer or her parents or someone else."
During defense questioning, Graner said he looped the leash around
the prisoner's shoulders as a way to coax him out of a cell, and that it
slipped up around his neck. He said he asked England to hold the strap
while he took photos that he could show to other guards later to teach
them this prisoner-handling technique.
At that point Pohl halted Graner's testimony and admonished the
defense for admitting evidence that ran counter to England's plea on the
conspiracy charge and one count of maltreating detainees.
The judge did not discuss the other five counts to which England had
Graner, who is said to be the father of England's infant son, was
found guilty in January and is serving a 10-year prison term for his
role in the scandal.
In a handwritten note given to reporters Tuesday, Graner had said he
wanted England to fight the charges.
"Knowing what happened in Iraq, it was very upsetting to see Lynn
plead guilty to her charges," he wrote. "I would hope that by doing so
she will have a better chance at a good sentence."
Graner maintains that he and the other Abu Ghraib guards were
following orders from higher-ranking interrogators when they abused the
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