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Abu Ghraib: Guilty plea expected

A sketch shows Frederick at a pretrial hearing.
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Abu Ghraib
United States

MANNHEIM, Germany (CNN) -- U.S. soldier Staff Sgt. Ivan Frederick will plead guilty at a pretrial hearing to one or two of the charges against him arising from the abuse of detainees at Iraq's Abu Ghraib prison, military sources say.

Frederick faces five charges: 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.

Plea bargain negotiations were under way between Frederick's lawyer and prosecutors, military sources in the United States and Germany said.

In addition to the Frederick hearing, Sgt. Javal Davis is to make a court appearance Tuesday on charges he mistreated and assaulted prisoners, dereliction of duty and other charges.

A hearing for Spc. Megan Ambuhl, who faces similar charges, was postponed on Monday.

In other developments, U.S. Army Spc. Charles Graner, one of the soldiers charged with abusing detainees at Abu Ghraib, lost a legal battle on Monday to suppress the photographs that brought attention to the scandal.

The presiding judge, Army Col. James Pohl, denied the defense's motion to suppress the photographs and ordered Graner's next hearing for October 21.

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, who is seen smiling over naked Iraqi prisoners in some of the notorious photographs from Abu Ghraib, could be sentenced to more than 24 years in prison if he is convicted.

Graner has been charged with assault, mistreatment of prisoners, dereliction of duty, conspiracy, obstruction of justice, adultery and committing indecent acts.

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)

The abuses, which took place last year, 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.

'Following orders'

Graner's attorney, Guy Womack, maintained Monday that the soldiers were only following orders from their commanders.

"Military intelligence was orchestrating what was done at Abu Ghraib," Womack said in an interview with CNN's Paula Zahn.

He said Graner is "disheartened that he and the other six MPs have been made a scapegoat as the United States government has tried to portray this as an isolated event by seven rogue MPs."

At the same time, Womack said, "He's very proud of his service in the Army. He's very proud of his service in the war on terrorism and what he was doing."

Womack also said that Frederick's plea would actually help Graner because he "is aware of everything that went on" and "knows that those MPs were ordered to be there and to participate."

Reports due

In Washington this week, the prison scandal is going to be at the heart of two reports, one to be released Tuesday and the other on Wednesday.

The first report, complied by a panel led by former Defense Secretary James Schlesinger, is to release its findings about the problems that led to the prison scandal.

An official familiar with the commission's work refused to confirm reports the findings would be directly critical of Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld for failing to provide sufficient troops and specific guidance on interrogation practices.

But he added, "These commissions are not too shy to voice their questions and concerns."

And a report by Maj. Gen. George Fay, to be released on Wednesday, is expected to recommend up to 27 individuals for referral to authorities for possible additional legal action, according to a senior Pentagon official familiar with the report.

As many as five of the individuals were private contractors hired to work at the prison, the official said.

The official also said Lt. Gen. Ricardo Sanchez, the commander of U.S. forces in Iraq when the abuse 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.

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