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Last Updated: Saturday, 7 August, 2004, 23:50 GMT 00:50 UK
Prison abuse hearing put on hold
Pte Lynndie England and one of her lawyers arrive for the third day of the hearing
England's lawyers want to call at least 40 more witnesses
A military judge has temporarily halted a hearing to decide whether US soldier Pte Lynndie England, accused of abusing Iraqi prisoners, should stand trial.

Col Denise Arn ordered the recess to review a request by Pte England's lawyers to call dozens more witnesses, including top generals and politicians.

They include Vice-President Dick Cheney and Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld.

Pte England could face up to 38 years in prison. Her lawyers say she was acting under orders from superiors.

The Pentagon has denied sanctioning any rough treatment of prisoners, and describes the abuse as isolated incidents.

'Vital evidence'

Pte England is to be charged with conspiracy to mistreat Iraqi prisoners, assaulting prisoners, committing acts prejudicial to good order, committing indecent acts, disobeying an order and creating and possessing sexually explicit photographs.

Her face became familiar after she appeared in photographs pointing at prisoners' genitals and holding a naked Iraqi detainee on a leash.

Her lawyers have promised to mount a vigorous defence, denying the charges and blaming flawed American policies in Iraq.

They are asking to call at least 40 more witnesses.

Among them are Lt-Gen Ricardo Sanchez, the former commander of US forces in Iraq, and Kenneth Davis, a former sergeant in the military police who said intelligence officers led and directed abuse of inmates.

Lawyer Richard Hernandez said such evidence could be vital in demonstrating that Pte England was encouraged to abuse inmates.

Prosecution lawyer Capt John Bensen objected to more witnesses being called, saying that the defence was on a "wild goose chase" and many of the witnesses could not tell the hearing anything new.

It is not clear when the hearing will resume, though Col Arn said she meant to finish it as soon as possible.




WATCH AND LISTEN
The BBC's Daniel Lak
"She is the visible face of this scandal"



SEE ALSO:
Whistleblower 'feared more abuse'
06 Aug 04  |  Americas
US soldier 'identified' as abuser
05 Aug 04  |  Americas
Iraq abuse photos 'taken for fun'
04 Aug 04  |  Americas
Woman soldier in abuse spotlight
07 May 04  |  Americas
Abuse row woman 'followed orders'
12 May 04  |  Americas
In pictures: Iraqi prisoner abuse
15 Jun 04  |  In Pictures


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