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Parents defend convicted Abu Ghraib guard

Reservist sentenced to 10 years for role in prison scandal


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"He was saving people," the convicted reservist's father Charles Graner Sr. said.
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Army Spc. Charles Graner Jr. Graner is sentenced to 10 years.
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NEW YORK (CNN) -- The parents of Spc. Charles Graner Jr., the U.S. Army reservist convicted in Iraq's Abu Ghraib prison abuse scandal, said Monday that his trial was unfair and that he was forced to carry out his superiors' orders, even though he opposed them as a Christian.

A jury of combat veterans at Fort Hood, Texas, last week sentenced Graner to 10 years in prison, demoted him to private and ordered a dishonorable discharge at the end of his prison term.

"He firmly believed he was doing his job," the reservist's father, Charles Graner Sr., told CNN's "American Morning."

"His job, you know, at first, as he said, he was a Christian who didn't believe in doing that. He was a correction officer who says, 'Hey, this isn't right.' But he believed that after listening and found out what he was doing, he was doing a good job. He was saving people."

Graner's mother, Irma, said the trial was "unfair."

"He didn't have a chance," she said. "He was found guilty before they started the trial. It was so one-sided. It was just terrible.

"I want the people of the United States to know how the prosecution and the judge just let my son out to dry."

The younger Graner was found guilty of two counts of conspiracy, one count of dereliction of duty, four counts of maltreatment of detainees, one count of aggravated assault and one count of an indecent act.

Photographs of Graner smiling alongside humiliated Iraqi prisoners, along with e-mails he sent to family and friends, were key pieces of evidence in the case.

During the sentencing phase, Graner, a prison guard in civilian life, told the panel he was following orders from civilian contractors and military intelligence officers. He was not under oath, and prosecutors didn't cross-examine him.

Irma Graner said her son's defense team was blocked from calling some important witnesses who could have testified on his behalf.

"They had witnesses that worked right in the Abu Ghraib prison with him that weren't allowed to testify because it was hearsay," she said. "How can it be hearsay when you're working side by side with the person?"

Graner's lead attorney, Guy Womack, said the limits on witnesses would be integral to his appeal.

"We had requested a number of intelligence officers be granted immunity so they could come in and testify under oath without fear of reprisal as to what they did," Womack said.

"We were granted one of them. A major. He was standing outside the courtroom with his granted immunity, and the judge ruled his testimony irrelevant."

Womack also complained about the rejection of an expert witness who would have explained that the pyramid stack of naked prisoners -- seen in one of the photographs with a grinning Graner behind them -- "is the proper technique to use in a riot situation."

"It's been used in American prisons over the years in Attica [New York] and other places," he said, "and it is no more injurious to a terrorist than it is to a high school cheerleader in America."

The soldier's father also said that his son had no reason to regret his actions.

"He was saving people. American people. The Americans, like the ones they shot in a car, burned the car, took the bodies out and hung them on a bridge," the elder Graner said, referring to insurgent actions in Falluja last year.

"He was doing that. He was trying to save more people. It was a job. He did the job. Should he be remorseful for doing a job? I think not."


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