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Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)

Soldier gets 10 years for Abu Graib Prison abuse

By Spc. Matthew Chlosta

FORT HOOD, Texas (Army News Service Jan. 19, 2005) -- The first Soldier to face a contested court-martial for abuse at Abu Ghraib Prison was sentenced Jan. 15 to 10 years in a military prison.

A military panel, consisting of four officers and six enlisted Soldiers, convicted Spc. Charles A. Graner Jr., 372nd Military Police Company, of five charges: conspiracy, dereliction of duty, maltreatment of detainees, assault and committing indecent acts.

In addition to the prison sentence, Graner will be reduced to private and dishonorably discharged.

Four other Soldiers had previously pleaded guilty to charges stemming from the Abu Ghraib prison incident. Graner contested the charges against him, maintaining he was following orders.

Graner's civilian lawyer, Guy Womack, argued throughout the weeklong trial, "MI (military intelligence) was in charge (at the prison) and Specialist Graner was just following their orders."

The panel was apparently not swayed by the defense team's arguments after hearing testimony from some of the Iraqi prisoners who had been photographed and mistreated by Graner in 2003. The prisoners testified about the abuse and the impact this would have on their lives.

Also called to the witness stand were other Soldiers from Graner's unit, who had pleaded guilty and agreed to testify in courts-martial plea agreements.

They included former Staff Sgt. Ivan Frederick, (demoted to private, sentenced to eight years in prison, bad conduct discharge), former Spc. Megan Ambuhl, (reduced in rank to private, bad conduct discharge), and former Spc. Jeremy Sivits, (demoted to private, sentenced to one year in prison, bad conduct discharge). Also testifying was former Spc. Armin Cruz, 205th Military Intelligence Brigade, who also had previously pleaded guilty (sentenced to eight months in prison, reduced to private, bad conduct discharge).

During pre-sentencing arguments early Jan. 15, the chief prosecutor, Maj. Michael Holley, III Corps, addressed the panel.

"The hour for Specialist Graner to be punished is finally here," he said to the panel, composed of Iraqi combat veterans. "I ask that you don't forget the victims. The enemy needs rallying points. I can't begin to tell you how much this affects how our captured Soldiers will be treated. Do not let the men who have fallen in honor be mentioned in the same breath as the name of the accused."

Graner, who didn't testify during the trial, was allowed to give an un-sworn statement during the sentencing phase of the court-martial.

"He (Graner) never said in three hours, he was sorry," Holley continued. "You now can make him responsible for his actions."

Courts-martial are scheduled at Fort Hood, Texas, for two other 372nd MP Soldiers charged in the Abu Ghraib incident. Sgt. Javal Davis and Spec. Sabrina Harman will face separate courts-martial proceedings beginning next month.

(Editor's note: Spc. Matthew Chlosta is assigned to the 4th Public Affairs Detachment.)


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