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US drops charge against Abu Ghraib accused
ABC News Online
Sunday, February 6, 2005.

The US Government has dropped the main charge against a female soldier who posed in front of a pyramid of naked Iraqis at Abu Ghraib prison.

The charge against Sabrina Harman, over viewing and failing to prevent other soldiers from forcing detainees to masturbate, was dropped without discussion. The charge carried a maximum sentence of five years.

Harman now faces five counts of maltreatment, one count of of conspiracy and one count of dereliction of duty.

When charges were filed in March, she faced a maximum 17-year sentence.

The latest dropped charge reduced the possible maximum sentence to 6.5 years, said Captain Patsy Takemura, Harman's military lawyer.

The Government dropped four other charges against her in August.

Harman still faces four counts over taking or posing in photographs depicting detainees in sexually humiliating poses - including the naked pyramid photo.

She is also accused of attaching wires to a hooded detainee and telling him he would be electrocuted if he fell off the box on which he was standing.

Attorneys for Harman argued that charges related to the photographs of hooded detainees should be dismissed, because victims must be aware of abuse in order to be abused.

"There is no mental suffering by the mere act of photographing," Capt Takemura said.

Harman is seen in one notorious photograph standing near Specialist Charles Graner - who has been sentenced to 10 years in prison for his role in the scandal - giving a "thumbs up" sign behind a pile of naked Iraqis.

In another photo from a separate incident, she flashes a broad smile in front of a dead Iraqi.

Harman is the only one of the three women charged in the Abu Ghraib abuses who has not been linked romantically with Graner, who was sentenced last month.

Harman's lawyers have argued that there was a breakdown of leadership, and she and others became scapegoats for the failures of a system that reached the highest levels of the military bureaucracy and the Bush administration.

Frank Spinner, another defence attorney, has said that of the seven soldiers from the Army's 372 Military Police Company charged, his client had the least culpability in the abuse.

On Friday, the same court at Fort Hood sentenced another member of Harman's unit, Sergeant Javal Davis, 27, to six months behind bars.

He stomped on the fingers and toes of the seven bound and hooded inmates in November 2003 before Graner stacked them into a pyramid and posed with Harman.

Of nine soldiers charged with abuse-related crimes at Abu Ghraib, six including Davis have admitted their guilt and one, Graner, has been convicted.

-Reuters

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