Charles Graner Guilty of Abu Ghraib Abuse
An Army reservist was convicted Friday by a military jury of abusing Iraqi prisoners at Abu Ghraib prison in a case that damaged America’s reputation after the U.S. invasion of Iraq. The 10-person jury found Spc. Charles Graner Jr. guilty of nine of 10 specifications, or counts, for his role in abusing detainees at Baghdad’s Abu Ghraib prison. The case was to go immediately into the sentencing phase. If convicted of all counts, he could have received 17 1/2 years in a military prison.
The verdict came after closing arguments were delivered earlier Friday by prosecutors and defense attorneys. During closing, military prosecutors showed photographs and videos depicting the abuse of inmates. “What we have here is plain abuse, no doubt about it,” said Capt. Chris Graveline, one of the prosecutors. “There is no justification.” The prosecution’s closing argument lasted about 30 minutes Friday morning. “Fortunately, he [Graner] does not have the final word on abuse at Abu Ghraib. You do. And it will speak volumes to the Army, volumes to the country, volumes to the world,” the prosecutor said, adding that the “true word” is “guilty as charged.”
During defense closing, attorney Guy Womack countered that his client and other Abu Ghraib guards were under extreme pressure from intelligence agents to use physical violence to prepare detainees for questioning. “It was a persistent, consistent set of orders,” said Womack, according to a report from The Associated Press. “To soften up the detainees, to do things so we can interrogate them successfully in support of our mission. … We had men and women being killed.”
No shocker here. Granger was clearly guilty. His defense was one that was not only untrue–he wasn’t “following orders”–but one that has held no legal weight since at least Nuremberg.