A US woman soldier accused of abusing Iraqi detainees at the Abu Ghraib prison appeared in court on Monday and a hearing was set for Aug. 3 to decide whether she should face trial.
Army Reserve Private Lynnd ie England, 21, was read her rights in court at Fort Bragg, North Carolina.
England, one of seven US soldiers accused of abusing Iraqi prisoners at the prison near Baghdad, faces 19 charges, including assaulting detainees, conspiring to mistreat them, committing indecent acts and disobeying orders.
She faces a dishonorable discharge and up to 38 years in prison if convicted on all charges against her.
A military judge, investigating officer Colonel Denise Arn, approved a request by England's lawyers for a delay of the hearing, so that Captain Jonathan Crisp, an army lawyer from Fort Jackson, South Carolina, can join the defense team.
England is perhaps the best-known of the seven soldiers charged after photographs showing American soldiers abusing Iraqi prisoners were made public in April. The photos, taken by soldiers in England's 372nd Military Police Company, caused a widespread outrage, particularly in the Arab world, prompting US President George W. Bush to apologize.
The abuses, reportedly committed late last year, first came to light in January, which was followed by a military investigation.
England and the other soldiers accused have insisted that they were following orders from military intelligence officers at the prison to "soften up" the prisoners for interrogation.
Specialist Jeremy Sivits, one of the seven accused soldiers, has pleaded guilty and been sentenced to one year in military prison.
(Xinhua News Agency July 13, 2004)