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Last Updated: Thursday, 13 January, 2005, 10:31 GMT
Abu Ghraib man 'ignored orders'
Spc Charles Graner
Graner is accused of leading abuses at Abu Ghraib
The US soldier at the centre of the Iraqi prisoner abuse scandal routinely flouted orders at the jail, according to the defence's first witness.

Specialist Charles Graner, who denies assault and conspiracy, has argued he was only following commands in his treatment of prisoners at Abu Ghraib.

However, the court in Texas heard from a witness called by the defence itself that he was not a law abiding soldier.

But it also learned guards were allowed to use aggressive tactics on inmates.

'Disobeyed orders'

Spc Graner, 36, has pleaded not guilty to five charges, including maltreating prisoners by administering beatings, stacking inmates in a pyramid shape and attaching detainees to a leash.

A group of bound Iraqi prisoners at the Abu Ghraib prison near Baghdad, Iraq in this undated photo. (AP Photo/Courtesy of The New Yorker)
Pte Jeremy Sivits
Sgt Ivan Frederick
Spc Megan Ambuhl
Spc Armin Cruz
Facing trial:
Pte Lynndie England
Spc Charles Graner
Sgt Javal Davies
Spc Sabrina Harman
The BBC's Michael Buchanan in Washington says the court heard that prison guards were allowed to use a range of techniques, including cold showers, sleep deprivation and the aggressive use of military dogs to soften up prisoners for questioning.

But, he says Spc Graner's lawyers' case that he was merely following orders was seriously undermined when some of their own defence witnesses testified that he was not a law abiding soldier, and that many of the methods he is accused of using were not ordered by superiors.

Master Sgt Brian Lipinski, a commanding officer who served at the prison alongside Spc Graner, said Spc Graner disobeyed orders and lied about injuries.

'Lied about injuries'

Sgt Lipinski said Spc Graner wore his hair and uniform in violation of regulations and refused to stay away from Pte Lynndie England, who is also awaiting trial on abuse charges.

He also testified that Spc Graner lied about how a prisoner was injured.

The sergeant said Spc Graner had initially told him the inmate had injured his face and neck by tripping over some rubble in November 2003, but later admitted he had pushed the prisoner against a wall.

Another defence witness, intelligence officer Roger Brokaw, said physical and psychological techniques were used on prisoners to glean information amid pressure from superiors.

However, Mr Brokaw said he believed Spc Graner and others acted on their own accord.

"They assumed all Iraqis were terrorists and needed discipline," he told the court.

If convicted on all counts, Spc Graner faces up to 17-and-a-half years in prison.

The trial continues.

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