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Graner sentenced to 10 years for abuses

He admitted to 'criminal' acts but said he was following orders


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Army Reserve Spc. Charles Graner Jr. is shown handcuffed and headed to prison Saturday.
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Graner is sentenced to 10 years for his role in Abu Ghraib abuses.

Army Spc. Charles Graner Jr. does not give evidence in his defense.

An officer testifies that reported Abu Ghraib interrogation techniques were not condoned.
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Army Reserve Spc. Charles Graner Jr.
Court-martial

FORT HOOD, Texas (CNN) -- Army Reserve Spc. Charles Graner Jr. was sentenced Saturday to 10 years in a military prison for his role in abusing detainees at Abu Ghraib prison in Baghdad.

Graner, 36, will serve his prison term as a private, with no salary, and will be dishonorably discharged after he is released.

Led from the courtroom in handcuffs and leg chains, Graner twice answered "No, ma'am" when asked whether he had regrets or apologies.

His mother, Irma, said her son took the rap for high-ranking officers, whom she said were "all guilty."

She criticized them for failing to testify on his behalf.

"He got 10 years in prison for something he was told to do," she said. "He committed a crime for obeying orders, and he would have committed a crime if he didn't obey orders."

Asked about his parents' claim that he was a scapegoat, Graner said, "I was a soldier, and if I did wrong, here I am."

Graner's attorney, Guy Womack, told reporters that he thought there are "some appealable issues" after the court-martial.

When the sentence was read, Graner stood stiffly, but his brows were a bit furrowed.

After jurors left the room, Graner turned to his attorney and said, "That's what makes the world go around," and laughed slightly.

He told reporters in the courtroom that he knew people thought he had acted "goofy" outside of the proceedings, smiling all the time, "talking about the sky being blue all the time" -- but he explained, "I'm home. I didn't think I would make it home, like some others did not."

Graner, a former prison guard in Pennsylvania, told CNN on Saturday that he had expected to get the maximum penalty of 15 years.

Friday, the same jury found Graner guilty of 10 charges, including aggravated assault, maltreatment and conspiracy.

Prosecutors accused Graner of being a ringleader in the physical abuse and sexual humiliation of prisoners that came to light when photos of apparent abuses were broadcast in the media in April 2004.

A Syrian prisoner whom Graner was convicted of battering testified that he was beaten while recovering from a bullet wound, and called Graner the top torturer in the prison.

Earlier Saturday during the penalty phase of his court-martial, Graner said he did not relish doling out what he described as "irregular treatment."

"I didn't enjoy it," Graner testified. "A lot of it was wrong. A lot of it was criminal."

Graner said he was obeying his superiors.

"We were called to violate the Geneva Convention," Graner said. "We were asked to do certain things I wasn't trained to do."

Graner's testimony was unsworn, meaning he could not be cross-examined.

His orders came from civilian contractors as well as military intelligence, Graner said during two-and-a-half hours on the witness stand.

"A lot of the weird stuff came from civilian contractors," he said, referring specifically to the photographs. Also, he said, "crazy stuff" was ordered by military intelligence soldiers.

When Womack asked why he was smiling in some photographs, Graner said, "There were a lot of things we did that were screwed up. If you didn't look at it as funny, you couldn't deal with it."

Graner told jurors he respected and understood their decision to convict him.

As he was leaving the courthouse for lunch, he was asked how he thought he would be treated in a military prison. "Professionally," he responded.

Friday night, Graner's parents had asked for mercy from the military jury.

"He wanted to be [a military policeman]. God, I don't know why," said his father, Charles Graner Sr.

"I bear no malice for you. When he came home, we were going to go fishing. He was going tell me about the war," Graner said. "Now, that fishing is going to be postponed. For how long, it's going to be up to you.

"I'd get down on my knees and beg to you, but my son wouldn't let me do it."

Irma Graner said her son was "kind, gentle, will do anything for anybody. He's not the one that he's being made out to be."

In dramatic closing arguments before the jury, prosecutors showed video and photographs of alleged abuses by Graner.

"What we have here is plain abuse, no doubt about it. There is no justification," prosecuting attorney Capt. Chris Graveline said.

But Graner's defense attorneys argued the images in the photographs were not as horrible as the prosecution made them out to be.

Graner, from Uniontown, Pennsylvania, was the first to face trial of the seven military guards charged in connection with the abuses at Abu Ghraib.

Three of those guards -- all from the 372nd Military Police Company -- have pleaded guilty without going to trial: Staff Sgt. Ivan Frederick II, 37, of Buckingham, Virginia; Spc. Jeremy Sivits, 24, of Fort Ashby, West Virginia; and Spc. Megan Ambuhl, 29, of Centreville, Virginia.

Graner reportedly had a relationship and fathered a baby with England, who is awaiting charges from the case.

Ambuhl testified earlier in the week that she also had a brief sexual relationship with him.

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


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