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Judge rejects Abu Ghraib guilty plea

May 05, 2005 12:19 IST

A US military judge presiding over the court-martial of Lynndie England, the soldier photographed with an Iraq detainee on a leash, Wednesday threw out her guilty plea in the Abu Ghraib prison scandal, reports Xinhua.

"There can be no findings of guilty that can be declared at this point," said Colonel James Pohl, the judge, after hearing testimony from Charles Graner, who was also involved in the abuse scandal, said the Xinhua report.

"This trial is going to stop today and pick up at some time in the future," Pohl told the military court at Fort Hood, Texas.

'Abu Ghraib abuse just for fun'  

At England's sentencing hearing, Graner testified that picture she took of her holding a naked prisoner on a leash at Abu Ghraib near Baghdad were meant to be used as a legitimate training aid for other guards, and argued that was a legitimate prison procedure, said Xinhua.

England told the judge when she pleaded guilty Monday that she knew the pictures were being taken purely for the amusement of the guards.

According to Xinhua, Pohl said the two statements could not be reconciled. "Both sides have indicated to me there is no way to resolve this inconsistency," he said.

"There is evidence being presented that you are not guilty," he told England.

Abu Ghraib 'tip of iceberg'

England, 22, pleaded guilty on Monday to several charges, including conspiracy to maltreat prisoners, maltreating prisoners and committing an indecent act, after reaching a plea bargain with military prosecutors last week which would lower her maximum possible sentence from 16 and a half years to 11 years in prison, said Xinhua.

England was one the seven members of the 372nd Military Police Company charged in the abuse scandal. Four of them have entered guilty pleas, and the only soldier to stand trial so far was Charles Graner, who was serving a 10-year jail term.

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