Abu Ghraib soldiers plead guilty
Judge accepts 2 plea agreements in prison scandal
From Susan Candiotti
(CNN) -- Two of those charged in the Abu Ghraib prison scandal in Iraq entered guilty pleas as part of plea agreements that were accepted Tuesday by a military judge at Fort Hood, Texas, an Army spokesman said.
Sgt. Javal Davis pleaded guilty to three charges while Spc. Roman Krol pleaded guilty to two charges stemming from an October 25, 2003, incident, said Army spokesman Tom Whitmire.
Krol was immediately sentenced to 10 months in military prison; the sentencing process for Davis will begin Wednesday.
Krol is the second military intelligence soldier charged in the scandal. Spc. Armin Cruz, his intelligence analyst, pleaded guilty last fall to charges arising out of the same incident and was sentenced to eight months behind bars.
Davis, 27, pleaded guilty before Judge James Pohl to dereliction of duty and making a false statement to investigators. He also pleaded guilty to two counts of battery, which were reduced from aggravated assault, Whitmire told CNN. He pleaded not guilty to conspiracy and mistreating prisoners.
Krol pleaded guilty to a charge of conspiracy abuse and two counts of abusing detainees. He pleaded not guilty to a charge of slapping a detainee in the face. He admitted to pouring water over naked detainees and forcing them to crawl on the floor, throwing a foam football at the same detainees while they were handcuffed while lying naked on the prison floor.
In addition to the 10-month prison sentence, Krol was reduced in rank to private and will be given a bad conduct discharge. He could have been sentenced to up to one year in prison.
A jury made up of at least one-third non-commissioned officers will be selected Wednesday to decide Davis' punishment.
Under Davis' plea deal, Army prosecutors have agreed to a term of 18 months, sources said. The maximum sentence on the charges Davis pleaded guilty to would have been six-and-a-half years in a military prison.
If the jury, which in theory is not to be aware of the plea deal, sentences Davis to a term shorter than 18 months, Davis would benefit. If the jury sentences Davis to more than 18 months, the court would be required to revert to the terms of the plea bargain.
Both Davis and Krol must also cooperate in ongoing investigations of others in the Abu Ghraib scandal.
A military spokesman told CNN the judge specifically mentioned cases involving Spc. Sabrina Harman and Pfc. Lynndie England.
Pohl accepted the pleas after questioning the men extensively about each charge, as called for under military judicial rules. While questioning Davis on the charge of dereliction of duty -- specifically failing to protect detainees from abuse -- the judge asked whether Davis saw fellow soldiers abusing prisoners, according to the military spokesman.
"Yes, I did," Davis told the judge.
Davis and Krol are the latest soldiers to plead guilty in the Abu Ghraib scandal.
Two weeks ago, Spc. Charles Graner received the stiffest sentence of the seven soldiers charged in the prison abuse scandal. A military panel at Fort Hood ordered Graner to spend 10 years in prison. (Full story)
Staff Sgt. Ivan Frederick, who already has pleaded guilty and testified against Graner, is serving an eight-year sentence.
Graner had taken the stand during the sentencing phase of his court-martial to admit his actions were criminal, and to say he didn't "enjoy them."
But he insisted he was following orders to rough up prisoners to soften them up for interrogations by intelligence agents.
During Davis' court martial, the judge accepted slightly altered language in a battery charge outlining the November 2003 incident. Under the new language, Davis pleaded guilty to "impacting a pile of ... detainees with the upper part of his body, eliminating the charge of "jumping" on the pile of detainees with "his shoulder."
Davis' attorney, Paul Bergrin, has told CNN he wanted the language changed because Davis insists he never meant to injure the detainees.