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Last Updated: Saturday, 15 January 2005, 14:04 GMT
Profile: Charles Graner
Charles Graner
Charles Graner believes he was made a scapegoat
Charles Graner, accused of being the chief abuser of inmates at Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq, walked over to the press as he arrived for the first day of his trial.

"We're going to find out how much of a monster I am today," he told reporters, mocking a sinister tone.

Since being propelled virtually overnight from the corridors of Iraq's most notorious prison onto the front pages of the world's press, Graner has portrayed himself as a scapegoat, the man who would take the flak for abuse that was ordered by intelligence men and even the Pentagon.

His mother pleaded with the court martial hearing his case that he "is not the monster he is made out to be".

"He's kind, he's gentle, he'd do anything for anybody," said Irma Graner.

From what I saw, he did not have a malevolent side
Ross Guidotti
Former colleague
She and her husband Charles Graner Sr still live in the house in Whitehall, a suburb of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, where "Chuck" grew up.

Born in 1968, he went to school at Baldwin High, before attending the University of Pittsburgh.

He dropped out two years into his course and joined the US marines in 1988.

He has the marines' eagle emblem tattooed on his right arm.

Friends and neighbours recall Graner as amiable and polite.

After marrying 19-year-old Staci Dean in 1990, he was posted as a military police officer to Iraq in 1991, during the first Gulf War.

US soldier Charles Graner apparently poises to punch an inmate of Abu Ghraib prison in this undated photo obtained by the Washington Post
Graner was found guilty of all charges against him (Photo courtesy Washington Post)
TV reporter Ross Guidotti served alongside him, and told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette later: "From what I saw, he did not have a malevolent side."

He remembered Graner as "a funny guy, outgoing and quick to crack a joke", and said he was shocked when the abuse allegations surfaced.

Many of the photos that emerged from Abu Ghraib, showing prisoners being seriously physically and sexually abused, also showed Charles Graner grinning widely.

In the inquiries that followed, Graner was often cited as the ringleader of the abuse.

Specialist Joseph Darby, who uncovered the photos, claimed Graner told him: "The Christian in me says it's wrong, but the corrections officer in me says, 'I love to make a grown man piss himself'."

Lynndie England and Charles Graner with naked prisoners in Abu Ghraib jail (AP Photo/Courtesy of The New Yorker)
Graner and Lynndie England became the faces of the scandal (AP Photo/Courtesy of The New Yorker)
As the press looked into his past, it emerged that Graner's wife Staci, the mother of his two young children Brittni and Dean, had filed for divorce in 1997.

After she made several allegations of violence and harassment, the courts issued a series of protection orders against Graner.

He also had a chequered employment history as a prison officer in the late 1990s, being disciplined several times.

During his second spell in Iraq, Graner formed a relationship with another soldier at Abu Ghraib, Pte Lynndie England, who gave birth to his child in late 2004.

But any hopes of a fresh start were to be ill-founded.

Pte England was also pictured in several of the photos from Abu Ghraib and faces her own court martial.

Graner was found guilty of assault, conspiracy, maltreatment of detainees, committing indecent acts and dereliction of duty.

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