Second Soldier To Plead Guilty To Prison Abuse
Tuesday, August 24, 2004
MANNHEIM, Germany, Aug. 23 -- An Army reservist accused of sexually humiliating inmates at Abu Ghraib prison will plead guilty to charges of abuse, according to a statement his attorney released Monday. Staff Sgt. Ivan L. Frederick would be the second of seven American soldiers charged in the mistreatment scandal to enter that plea.
"I have accepted responsibility for my actions at Abu Ghraib prison," he said in the signed statement. "I will be pleading guilty to certain charges because I have concluded that what I did was a violation of law."
He expressed hope that other Army personnel "who contributed to or participated in the chaos that was Abu Ghraib will also come forward and accept responsibility." The statement was issued a day before Frederick is scheduled to appear at a pre-trial hearing at a U.S. military court in this southern German town.
At hearings here on Monday for two other accused soldiers, the presiding judge expressed frustration with delays by the Army in providing information to the defense and ordered the prosecution to re-investigate and refile charges against one of them.
Revelations of abuse at the prison west of Baghdad touched off expressions of outrage around the world, at a time when the Bush administration was trying to establish a moral high ground for its occupation of Iraq. According to soldiers there, it also increased antipathy toward U.S. forces.
Later this week, two major U.S. government reports concerning Abu Ghraib are due for release. One, commissioned by Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld, concerns U.S. authorities' overall response to the scandal. The second, from the Army, examines what role military intelligence units played in bringing about abuse.
The defense teams for Frederick and other charged members of the 372nd Military Police Company have argued that senior officers ordered the mistreatment. It was not the work of renegade, undisciplined guards, they maintain, but part of a strategy to extract intelligence from captured Iraqi rebels at a time of mounting U.S. casualties.
Investigators allege that Frederick, who was in charge of the military police who worked the night shift at the prison, forced naked detainees to form a pyramid and to simulate sexual acts. He is also alleged to have been involved in forcing a prisoner to stand on a box with wires placed on his hands. Shown in a widely publicized photograph, the inmate was falsely told he would be electrocuted if he fell off, the military contends.
In an interview, Gary Meyers, Frederick's civilian attorney, said: "We are making prudent choices," with the hope of mitigating Frederick's potential sentence. The statement made no mention of a plea bargain, and did not say which charges Frederick would acknowledge.
In his statement, Frederick expressed concern for the safety of Spec. Joseph Darby, the soldier who helped expose the abuses at the prison by turning over photographs taken there last November. Last week, Darby was placed under protective custody because of threats to his life, news reports said.
"To all who have supported me, I want you to know that I have no bad feelings towards Specialist Darby and neither should you," Frederick said. "He did what he thought was right, and it was right. I ask you to accept that and move on."
In May, Spec. Jeremy C. Sivits pled guilty to four criminal counts in connection with actions at Abu Ghraib and was sentenced to a year in prison. Proceedings have continued against six other soldiers.