One of the most prominent figures in the Abu Ghraib prisoner abuse scandal has been convicted on six counts of abuse and conspiracy, and faces up to 10 years in prison.
A military jury in Texas convicted Private First Class Lynndie England of four counts of maltreatment of detainees, one count of committing an indecent act and one count of conspiracy. She was acquitted on a second conspiracy count.
England, 22, became notorious early last year when photographs were published showing her abusing inmates at Baghdad's Abu Ghraib prison, along with other U.S. soldiers. The abuse took place over a three-month period in late 2003. One of the most famous photos shows England holding a leash attached to the neck of a naked prisoner, who is lying on the floor.
Lawyers for England argued that she was convinced to participate in the abuse by another soldier, then-Specialist Charles Graner Jr. The defense said England was depressed and has a subservient personality, which made it impossible for her to refuse to do whatever Graner wanted because he was assertive and out-ranked her, and they were involved in a romantic relationship. But the prosecution successfully argued that even the most junior U.S. army soldiers are trained not to participate in such abuse.
Graner was sentenced to 10 years in prison for his role in the abuse. Another soldier was also convicted, and six others pled guilty to various related charges. All of them were relatively junior non-commissioned officers. No other cases are pending.
No senior officers have been charged or convicted in the scandal, but 27 officers have received various forms of administrative punishment, including reprimands and discharges from military service. The general who was in charge of all U.S. military prison operations in Iraq at the time of the abuse was reprimanded and reduced in rank to colonel.