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Last Updated: Monday, 2 May, 2005, 16:04 GMT 17:04 UK
Woman soldier admits Iraq abuse
Lynndie England
Pte England's defence argue she was acting under orders
An American woman soldier has pleaded guilty to charges of abusing prisoners at Abu Ghraib jail in Iraq, at a court martial in Texas.

Lawyers say Private Lynndie England agreed to a plea deal that will reduce her maximum jail sentence to 11 years.

Images of Pte England smiling and pointing at naked Iraqis sickened America and the rest of the world.

She is one of nine soldiers who were charged with mistreating Iraqi captives at Abu Ghraib in late 2003.

Some have pleaded guilty and have been sentenced to jail.

The defence has always contended that Pte England and other soldiers were acting on orders of army intelligence officials, who wanted to soften up prisoners before they were interrogated.

It is alleged that it was a policy which was sanctioned at the highest level.

But four top army officers were cleared last week of any wrongdoing at Abu Ghraib.

Only one senior soldier, Brig Gen Janis Karpinski, has been relieved of her command as a result of the scandal.

'Following orders'

The hearing is taking place at the Fort Hood military base in Texas.

Pte England, 22, had been facing nine charges carrying a potential 16 years in prison.

ABU GHRAIB SCANDAL
Lynndie England pointing at the genitals of prisoners (AP Photo/Courtesy of  The New Yorker)
Sentenced:
Spc Charles Graner
Pte Jeremy Sivits
Sgt Ivan Frederick
Spc Megan Ambuhl
Spc Armin Cruz
Spc Roman Krol
Sgt Javal Davis
Facing trial:
Pte Lynndie England
Spc Sabrina Harman

Her lawyers have said she would plead guilty to seven of the charges in return for a lighter maximum sentence.

Last year she became pregnant by fellow soldier Charles Graner, who was accused of being the ringleader of the abuse at Abu Ghraib.

Graner was convicted by a court martial and sentenced to 10 years in jail.

Pte England has since given birth to a baby boy. Her legal team will argue she was under the control of an older man.

Defence lawyer Rick Hernandez has said there were other mitigating factors.

"We're going to delve into her mental health issues, her severe learning deficit, who Lynndie England is as a person and how she got to the situation where she is," he said.




BBC NEWS: VIDEO AND AUDIO
Why Lynndie England pleaded guilty to seven abuse charges



SEE ALSO:
In pictures: Iraqi prisoner abuse
15 Jun 04 |  In Pictures


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