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Pregnant soldier faces Abu Ghraib court-martial

Photos show England holding prisoner on leash

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Pfc. Lynndie England was celebrating her 21st birthday at Abu Ghraib.
• Gallery:  Abuse at Abu Ghraib prison (Contains graphic content. Viewer discretion advised.)
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United States
Donald H. Rumsfeld

FORT BRAGG, North Carolina (CNN) -- The commander of the 18th Airborne Corps on Monday referred Pfc. Lynndie England to trial by general court-martial, the corps announced.

England faces 19 charges including conspiracy and assault in connection with the mistreatment of prisoners at the Abu Ghraib prison in Baghdad.

A statement said Lt. Gen. John R. Vines, Fort Bragg commander, made the court-martial referral. England deferred entering a plea to the charges during her Friday arraignment.

The charges against England accuse her of conspiracy to maltreat a prisoner by appearing in a photograph holding a leash around the neck of the detainee.

Other counts accuse her of assault, committing indecent acts, failure to obey an order or regulation by creating sexually explicit photographs of herself, and disobeying an order from a noncommissioned officer.

A motions hearing is scheduled for December 1-3 with a trial date set for January 17-28, 2005, the statement said.

This is the only Abu Ghraib case slated for trial in the United States. The military returned England to the United States after she became pregnant from an affair with Charles Graner. He also is charged in the scandal.

England's baby is due in mid-October.

The charges England faces could lead to as many as 38 years in prison.

Twenty-six witnesses testified in England's preliminary hearing, conducted during seven days in the first and last weeks of August.

During those hearings prosecutors alleged England enjoyed participating in the abuse of prisoners.

England was celebrating her 21st birthday when she helped commit some of the worst acts of abuse at Abu Ghraib prison, military prosecutors said.

The prosecution said England admitted that when seven suspected rioters arrived at a cell block for questioning, she stepped on some of them, mocked them as they stood naked in a line against a wall and posed for a picture while the naked men lay piled in a human pyramid.

Capt. Crystal Jennings, one of the prosecutors, told a military court, "She was having fun. There was no indication she was there for any military purpose."

Instead, Jennings said, England had gone to the cell block that night to spend time with Graner on her birthday.

England's defense attempted to call commanders and policy makers to testify, but the hearing officer ruled against requiring testimony from Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, Vice President Dick Cheney, and four other generals, including Lt. Gen. Ricardo Sanchez, the top commander in Iraq at the time.

In interviews before the hearing, England's attorneys said she did not take part voluntarily in abuses.

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