Private Lynndie R. England, a 22-year-old Army file clerk whose smirking photographs came to personify the Abu Ghraib prison scandal, was convicted on Monday of joining in the abuse when she posed next to detainees who had been stripped and put into humiliating poses.
After deliberating for just over two hours, the jury, made up of five male Army officers, found England guilty of six out of seven counts of conspiracy and maltreatment of Iraqi prisoners, including an episode when she was photographed holding a strap tied as a leash around a naked detainee's neck. The jury acquitted her of a single conspiracy charge related to the leash photograph.
Standing at attention in her Army dress uniform, England remained stoic as the verdict was read, as she has throughout the five-day trial. She could be sentenced to nine years in military prison; the trial's sentencing phase begins on Tuesday.
Although appeals are possible, the conviction closes the main chapter in the Army's prosecution of nine reservists who were charged with mistreating prisoners at Abu Ghraib. Two others, including England's former boyfriend Private Charles Graner, were convicted in trials, and six others reached plea deals.
After the photographs came to light last year, senior Pentagon officials initially sought to characterise the scandal as an aberration carried out by rogue military police soldiers on the prison's night shift. Since then, the US Army has opened more than 400 inquiries into detainee abuse in Iraq and Afghanistan, and punished 230 enlisted soldiers and officers.
In closing arguments on Monday, prosecutors described Private England as an enthusiastic participant and displayed poster-size enlargements of the photos, including one in which she pointed at an Iraqi's genitals. “What soldier wouldn't know that that's illegal?” said Capt. Chris Graveline, the lead prosecutor, adding, “She is enjoying, she is participating, all for her own sick humour. —NYT