James Pohl, a military judge rejected a motion to dismiss charges against SPC, Charles Graner, the suspected leader of the abuses at the Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq.
Comments made by President Bush and Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, condemning the acts of abuse, has Graner’s defense lawyers questioning whether he will receive a fair military trial.
“The court does not find any apparent unlawful command influence,” said Pohl. He added that it would have been unlikely for the Bush administration to refrain from commenting on a widely publicized case of such sensitivity. He added that the Bush administration is adamant that the presumption of innocence principle be upheld once the Abu Ghraib trials begin.
If prospective jurors display any signs of predetermined bias against SPC Graner, Pohl will reconsider his ruling.
In April the scandal erupted when photographs of abuse of Iraqi prisoners were made public. Seven soldiers from the Army’s 372 Military Police Company have been charged for their involvement in the indecent acts.
Amongst those being charged is Private Lynndie England who recently gave birth to a baby for Graner. In one photo England is shown holding a prisoner by a leash. Next month England will stand trial in Fort Bragg, NC.
Graner, a native of Uniontown, PA could possibly face more than 20 years in prison. Some charges include conspiracy to mistreat detainees, assault, committing indecent act, and the obstruction of justice and adultery.
The photos display graphic scenes of prisoners being forced to commit demeaning acts. Some include a traumatized Iraqi sitting face to face with a growling dog as well as a naked and blindfolded body confined to chains. In one photo, Graner is seen standing behind a naked pile of prisoners.
Graner and his lawyers charge that the alleged acts of abuse were ordered by higher- ranking officials to scare prisoners into talking to interrogators.