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Witness: Military intelligence led Abu Ghraib abuse

Hearing begins for accused soldier

Pfc. Lynndie England, left, looks back at her mother, Terrie, as she enters the Judge Advocate Building.
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Prisoner abuse hearing resumes for Pfc. Lynndie England.
Military Intelligence
Crime, Law and Justice

FORT BRAGG, North Carolina (CNN) -- A defense witness in Pfc. Lynndie England's preliminary court hearing testified Monday that military intelligence operatives helped lead the abuse and humiliation of naked Iraqi detainees at Abu Ghraib prison.

Former Sgt. Kenneth Davis, who described himself as a "private investigator and part-time minister," said he watched two intelligence specialists mishandle prisoners who were suspected of raping a teenage boy.

"I saw two people who appeared to be military intelligence handcuffing two naked detainees," Davis testified.

Although he did not know their names at the time, Davis now identifies the men as Spec. Armin Cruz, an intelligence analyst, and Spec. Roman Krol, an intelligence interrogator.

Both men, either personally or through a lawyer, have denied Davis' accusations. Neither has been charged with any wrongdoing at Abu Ghraib.

But both are known to be still under investigation.

Davis was an Army Reserve guard elsewhere at Abu Ghraib for two months last fall, but happened to be in the high-security cell block on October 25 when three men were arranged in a twisted, naked tangle on the cell block floor, positioned in a way to make it look like they were involved in a homosexual encounter.

Davis testified he told his platoon lieutenant the next day that MI -- military intelligence -- was handling naked detainees "in a weird way." He said his lieutenant replied, "That's military intelligence. Let them do their job. Stay out of the way."

The lieutenant involved has told The Washington Post he does not remember Davis ever talking to him about abuse at Abu Ghraib.

The former sergeant, who has told his story to several media outlets, including a lengthy interview with CNN, testified that "by all appearances," it was military intelligence that was giving the instructions for the mistreatment of the rape suspects.

Contradicting evidence

However, the results of one investigation into the Abu Ghraib scandal, the Fay report, reached a different conclusion.

The report, made public last week, said, "This incident was most likely orchestrated by MP personnel."

It named four military police officers who were present that night and have been charged, including England and Spec. Charles Graner, considered the ringleader of the abuse at Abu Ghraib. In that same context, the report includes a fifth MP, identified only by a number, who may have been Davis himself.

A previous witness from military intelligence testified at the start of the month that he saw Cruz put his foot on the buttocks of one man and press down to make it seem the three suspects were having sex. The Fay report also said a witness saw Krol "dump water on the detainees from a cup and throw a foam football at them."

Krol has acknowledged to CNN he was present as an onlooker during the abuse, but denied he handcuffed the suspects or even touched them in any way. Cruz's lawyer in Texas also denied the accusation that Cruz helped orchestrate the mistreatment.

The Fay report concluded, "This is a clear incident of direct MI personnel involvement in detainee abuse; however, it does not appear to be based on MI orders."

England, who took some of the photos that night, is facing 19 counts that could send her to prison for as much as 38 years if she is court-martialed and convicted.

Because she is more than seven months pregnant as an unwed mother, no trial is likely to begin before sometime next year.

Toe and finger stomping allegation

Earlier Monday, the only guard to plead guilty so far in the Abu Ghraib scandal testified he saw England stomp on the fingers and toes of naked Iraqi detainees in another episode of abuse at the prison.

Pvt. Jeremy Sivits leveled the accusation under oath, even though other witnesses who saw the same incident had never mentioned England, and neither did Sivits when first questioned by military investigators earlier in the year.

Sivits, testifying by telephone from a military prison, recounted what he saw the night last November when seven suspected rioters were brought into the cell block at Abu Ghraib.

He said England and Sgt. Javal Davis, already facing a court-martial, "were stomping on the fingers and toes of the detainees."

This was the night the seven prisoners, stripped naked, were stacked in a human pyramid. England can be seen in one of the Abu Ghraib photos standing behind that pile.

She was also photographed that night with a cigarette in her mouth, pointing to the genitals of the same prisoners when they were lined up naked against a wall.

Sivits testified, "Pfc. England was making comments about the size of their penises."

England has been called the "poster child" of Abu Ghraib by her own lawyer because she is seen in so many of the most notorious photos.

However, Sivits' allegation is the first time England has been accused of abusing any of the detainees physically.

He gave two statements to military investigators in January of this year, and neither one mentions England doing any such thing.

Two other witnesses to what happened that night -- one a first-class sergeant, another a lower-ranking soldier who tried to blow the whistle but was ignored -- testified August 4 at the start of England's hearings, and each identified only Javal Davis as stomping on the detainees' toes. Neither raised England's name.

CNN's Jim Polk and Susan Candiotti contributed to this report.

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