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Last Updated: Monday, 21 June, 2004, 05:51 GMT 06:51 UK
US Iraq abuse suspects in court
US soldiers and detainees at Abu Ghraib - AP Photo/Courtesy of The New Yorker
The charges relate to some of the most notorious incidents
Three US soldiers charged with abuse of prisoners at Baghdad's Abu Ghraib jail have gone before a initial hearing.

Monday's hearing is intended to resolve any legal technicalities before the full trial of Charles Graner, Ivan Frederick and Javal Davis.

One soldier, Jeremy Sivits, has already been sentenced to a year in jail, but this trio face more serious charges and sentences of up to 24 years.

But a lawyer for one of the men says "improper command" was behind the abuse.

Paul Bergrin, who represents Sergeant Davis, says he will seek to have the charges against his client dismissed, because - he says - harsh treatment was encouraged by senior officers, with a defective chain of command going all the way to President George W Bush.

Mr Bergrin says that if the military judge will not strike out the charges, he will try to have the trial moved to the United States.

Seven soldiers in all have been accused of abusing Iraqi detainees.

Headline images

Specialist Graner faces the most serious charges, including posing for photos by a naked pile of detainees last November, the date when most of the alleged abuse took place.

ABU GHRAIB: THE ACCUSED
Spc Jeremy Sivits: First to be tried, pleaded guilty
Sgt Javal Davis: Charges include cruelty and maltreating prisoners
Sgt Ivan Frederick: Charges include assaulting prisoners and committing indecent acts
Spc Charles Graner: Charges include maltreating and assaulting prisoners
Pte Lynndie England: Charges not announced
Spc Sabrina Harman: Charges not announced
Spc Megan Ambuhl: Charges not announced

He is also accused of forcing prisoners to strip naked and masturbate in front of each other.

Sergeant Frederick is said to have been involved in hooding a prisoner and making him on a box with wires attached to his body, telling him he would be electrocuted if he fell down.

A photograph of the incident was one of the most widely circulated when the abuse scandal first came to light at the end of April.

General Paul Kern has now been appointed to head the probe looking at the role of military intelligence personnel in events at Abu Ghraib.

Soldiers facing charges over alleged abuse have said that they were following orders to "soften up" prisoners for interrogation by US intelligence operatives.





 


 

WATCH AND LISTEN
The BBC's Dumeetha Luthra
"This is the first of three pre-trial hearings"



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