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Prison guard's attorney: 'The Army set her up'

Blames Abu Ghraib prosecutions on 'public opinion, pressure'


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BAGHDAD, Iraq (CNN) -- An attorney for one of the soldiers accused in the Abu Ghraib prison scandal told the investigative officer Friday that the Army -- not his client -- "should take the blame."

In his final remarks at an Article 32 hearing, similar to a civilian grand jury, for Spec. Sabrina Harman, Frank Spinner said she "was caught in a very difficult situation as a young soldier."

"This young woman should [never] have been put in that environment," he said. "I think the Army set her up. I think the Army should take the blame."

Speaking after the hearing, Spinner said he had "no doubt that Iraqi detainees have been physically abused on a wide scale that would be beyond the military's ability ever to prosecute."

"The chain of command, they know it too, and the problem is that people won't step up and admit it," he said. "To do it now would only subject them to prosecution."

At the same time, he said, "I am loath to condemn our soldiers and Marines where these things have happened. I think the prosecution of these cases is just gut reaction to public opinion and pressure."

Harman's hearing wrapped up Friday with none of the dramatics of Thursday's testimony, when military police commander Capt. Donald Reese testified that military intelligence commander Col. Thomas Pappas was present when one detainee died in prison in late December.

A grinning Harman posed alongside the detainee's corpse for photographs that surfaced in recent months, in relation to the prisoner-abuse allegations.

Two witnesses testified Friday, followed by closing remarks from Harman's attorney and the military prosecutor, Maj. Michael Holley.

"We've shown ample evidence that these charges warrant a general court-martial," Holley told the investigative officer, Maj. Gary Carlson. "There should be no question in your mind."

But Spinner disagreed, noting that Reese had put two men with prior corrections experience -- Staff Sgt. Ivan Frederick and Spec. Charles Graner, both also charged in the abuses -- in charge of the night shift.

"The government prosecution seems to believe that Specialist Harman, who sells, makes and delivers pizza for a living, is supposed to come in and challenge Graner and Frederick about what is going on," he said.

Spinner reiterated Reese's testimony on Thursday: that the detainee was brought in as a suspect in an attack on the Red Cross in Baghdad and was combative when he first arrived at Abu Ghraib. Reese said he saw the prisoner dead in the shower, bleeding from the head, nose and mouth, but was told that the prisoner had died of a heart attack during interrogation.

Reese said Pappas, a female major and Lt. Col. Steve Jordan were present during the interrogation.

"I heard Colonel Pappas say, 'I'm not going to go down alone for this,'" Reese testified.

The body was locked in the shower overnight, Reese testified, and then was hooked up to an intravenous drip and taken away.

"I was told the reason they did that was they didn't want the other inmates to get upset he had passed during the interrogation," Reese said.

The autopsy, issued the next day, said the inmate died from a blood clot caused by trauma, Reese said.

Seven soldiers -- all members of the 372nd Military Police Company -- have been accused in connection with the prison abuses. In May, former specialist, now private, Jeremy Sivits pleaded guilty, and was sentenced to a year in prison and given a bad conduct discharge. The plea bargain allows him to testify against other soldiers involved in the abuse.

Spinner, in his closing arguments, noted that Sivits had spoken to his client soon after the incident in question.

"Sivits talked to Specialist Harman right after November 8 [the day the photographs were taken]," the attorney said. "She indicated she had been taking photographs of what was happening. She was disgusted by what was happening."

At the close of the hearing, a statement from the Army said that Carlson would prepare a recommendation for the appointing authority, which would then determine if the evidence presented at the hearing warranted a court-martial.


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