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Judge: Abuse photos stay as evidence

Two reports due this week may broaden legal action

From Chris Burns
CNN

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A courtroom drawing shows Graner in court Monday in Germany.
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MANNHEIM, Germany (CNN) -- U.S. Army Spc. Charles Graner, one of the soldiers charged with abusing detainees at Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq, lost a legal battle Monday to suppress the photographs that brought attention to the scandal.

Meanwhile, military sources in Germany and the United States said Staff Sgt. Ivan "Chip" Frederick, 37, another soldier charged in the scandal, will plead guilty at a pretrial hearing Tuesday to one or two of the charges against him.

Plea bargain negotiations were under way between Frederick's lawyer and prosecutors, the sources said.

Frederick is charged with dereliction of duty by willfully failing to protect detainees from abuse, cruelty and maltreatment; conspiracy to maltreat detainees; maltreatment of detainees; assault of detainees; and committing indecent acts.

Graner's attorneys argued at a pretrial hearing Monday that investigators obtained two search warrants but executed the first in the middle of the night after Graner had a long, difficult day of work as a guard at the prison. Graner refused to sign the second.

Prosecuting attorney Maj. Michael Holley countered that Graner, a civilian prison guard before his Army Reserve unit was called to Iraq, had the training and experience to respond to the warrant.

"Graner knew exactly what he was doing and consented voluntarily" to the first search, which was conducted January 13, Holley said.

Investigators seized computers and CD-ROMs, and then came back with a second warrant authorizing them to search their contents.

Graner, 35, wearing desert khakis, testified that when investigators arrived with the second warrant, he told them he wanted to talk to an attorney.

"I refused [to sign], not until I saw an attorney," Graner said. He said it had been "extremely stressful" around that time.

The presiding judge, Army Col. James Pohl, questioned whether a second warrant was necessary, noting that once the computers and disks were seized, it only made sense that their contents could be searched.

He also questioned what the defense was trying to suppress because the photographs in question -- several showing Graner -- were readily available and had been made public independent of the specialist's computer.

Pohl denied the defense's motion to suppress the photographs and ordered Graner's next hearing for October 21.

Guy Womack, Graner's civilian attorney, also asked for a change of venue and said after the hearing he believes Pohl will eventually grant one.

"We expect to win that once we can flesh out the witness difficulties we'll have," Womack told reporters after the hearing. Pohl said Monday it was too early to consider the motion.

The proceedings took place in a packed barracks room at an Army post in Mannheim, where the hearings were moved from Baghdad over safety concerns expressed by the defense. An overflow room was also packed.

Graner, identified by prosecutors as a ringleader of the physical abuse and sexual humiliation of prisoners at the Baghdad prison, was the first of four military police officers to face pretrial hearings Monday and Tuesday in Mannheim.

Pohl will also have to decide where the courts-martial will be held -- Iraq, Germany or the United States.

Graner has been charged with assault, mistreatment of prisoners, dereliction of duty, conspiracy, obstruction of justice, adultery and committing indecent acts. He could face more than 24 years in prison if convicted on all charges.

The adultery charge stems from a relationship he had with Pfc. Lynndie England, who is pregnant with his child and charged in the scandal as well. Her own pretrial hearing is taking place in Fort Bragg, North Carolina. (Full story)

Abuses, which took place last fall, were exposed in April when a series of photographs of the activities at the prison were made public. By then, an Army investigation had been under way for several months.

Despite reports indicating the participation of others, so far only seven soldiers have been charged, all of them members of the 372nd Military Police Company, an Army Reserve unit based near Cumberland, Maryland.

"Specialist Graner and the other MPs received [both direct and implied] orders," Womack said. "Many of the orders came from civilian contractors, many of them came from military intelligence officers, [and] some of them may have come from other government agencies, which is a euphemism for the CIA."

Pohl ruled Monday that the defense can have the names of civilian contractors and others working at the prison at the time of the alleged abuse.

Pair of reports

A Pentagon report by U.S. Maj. Gen. George Fay is expected to recommend up to 27 people for referral to authorities for possible additional legal action, including as many as five private contractors, according to a senior Pentagon official familiar with it.

The report was due to be released in July but is now expected to be released Wednesday, the official said. (Full story)

The official also said Lt. Gen. Ricardo Sanchez, the commander of U.S. forces in Iraq when the abuses took place, will be criticized in the report for failing to oversee the prison system properly and failing to provide enough resources and personnel. Sanchez has since been replaced as commander in Iraq.

Another Pentagon report on problems in the U.S.-run detention system in Iraq that led to the Abu Ghraib scandal is due to be released Tuesday by a four-person advisory panel appointed by Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and chaired by former Defense Secretary James Schlesinger.

Spc. Megan Ambuhl's hearing was postponed Monday. Her charges include maltreatment of detainees, dereliction of duties, and committing indecent acts with detainees. (Full story)

A hearing is set Tuesday for Sgt. Javal Davis, charged with mistreating and assaulting detainees, dereliction of duty, and making false or deceiving statements to investigators.

Spc. Sabrina Harman is awaiting a court-martial. (Full story)

In May, Spc. Jeremy Sivits was sentenced to a year of confinement, demoted to private and given a bad conduct discharge after he pleaded guilty to conspiracy to maltreat subordinates or detainees.

He also admitted dereliction of duty for willfully failing to protect detainees from abuse, cruelty and maltreatment, and maltreatment of detainees.

The plea bargain allows him to testify against other soldiers involved in the abuse. (Full story)


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