Iraqi abuse done for 'fun'

Wed, August 4, 2004

PROSECUTORS portrayed U.S. Pfc. Lynndie England as an out-of-control soldier who mocked Iraqi prisoners in photos "just for fun," seeking yesterday to discredit claims that she was following orders when she abused detainees at Iraq's Abu Ghraib prison. NO INTERROGATION VALUE


On the first day of a hearing at Fort Bragg, N.C., to determine whether England should be court-martialled for her actions at the prison, witnesses testified that the naked detainees shown with her in human pyramids and tethered to a leash were common criminals of little or no value to interrogators, abused only for sport.

An army investigator testified that when he interviewed England about the photos three months before they became public, she told him they were taken while "they were joking around, having some fun, during the night shift."

Paul Arthur said he believed the reservists from the 372nd Military Police Company were responding to the stress of being in a war zone. Just before the pictures were taken in October 2003, there had been a prison riot and soldiers had been hurt.

But when asked if that assessment applied to England, Arthur replied: "She never mentioned that she was frustrated. She said it was more for fun."

Defence lawyers have said that the 21-year-old reservist from Fort Ashby, W.Va., was following orders from higher-ups and that the U.S. government has made her a scapegoat.

A second Army investigator, Warren Worth, described other photos that show England engaging in "oral sodomy" with a soldier, posing nude on a beach or pool, and waving her breasts in the face of a sleeping soldier. When asked whether England ever expressed unease at doing these things, Worth responded: "At no time did she say that."

England, visibly pregnant beneath her woodland camouflage uniform, sat impassively with her elbows on the defence table and her hands folded in front of her.


Meanwhile, yesterday, the U.S. general formerly in charge of Abu Ghraib prison said that there had been a conspiracy to prevent her knowing about prisoner abuse at the jail.

Brig.-Gen. Janis Karpinski told Britain's BBC radio she was deliberately kept in the dark. Asked whether she thought the conspiracy reached up to the Pentagon or the White House, she said: "The indication is that it may have."