FORT HOOD, Texas -- A military judge yesterday ordered the former commander of US prisons in Iraq to testify at the trial of a soldier who says he was ordered to abuse detainees at Abu Ghraib.
Colonel James Pohl, the judge, said Brigadier General Janis Karpinski's testimony at the trial of Sergeant Javal Davis would be limited to conditions at Abu Ghraib and the interaction there between guards and military interrogators.
Davis told investigators that military intelligence personnel appeared to approve of the abuse. "We were told they had different rules," he told investigators, according to an Army report.
Karpinski has denied knowing about any mistreatment of prisoners until photographs were made public at the end of April showing hooded and naked prisoners being tormented by their US captors. She was relieved of her command after abuses at the prison came to light.
In an interview with the Associated Press, Karpinski said a "conspiracy" among top US commanders left her to blame for the abuses at Abu Ghraib. A report issued by an independent panel of nongovernment experts blamed Karpinski for leadership failures that "helped set the conditions at the prison which led to the abuses."
The hearing came as the Navy said it was investigating new photographs obtained by the AP that appear to show Navy SEALs in Iraq sitting on hooded and handcuffed detainees. Other photos show what appear to be bloodied prisoners, one with a gun to his head.
Pretrial hearings for Davis and Specialist Sabrina Harman at Fort Hood yesterday were originally scheduled to begin next year in Baghdad.
Specialist Charles Graner Jr., described as the ringleader and father of the child of Private First Class Lynndie England, is scheduled to appear in a military courtroom tomorrow. He is expected to seek dismissal of charges on grounds of undue command influence.
England, the woman shown in now-infamous photographs holding a naked Iraqi prisoner by a leash and smiling and smoking in front of nude Iraqis, also sought to call Karpinski as a witness, along with Vice President Dick Cheney, and Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld. The judge in her case rejected those requests.
Charges against Davis, a native of Roselle, N.J., include conspiracy to maltreat detainees, assault, dereliction of duty, and lying in official statements. He has acknowledged stepping on the fingers and toes of detainees, but denied hurting anyone and said he was ordered to "soften them up."
Harman, of Lorton, Va., is accused of photographing some of the abuse, participating in sexual humiliation of naked prisoners, writing "rapist" on the leg of a detainee who then was forced to pose naked with other prisoners, and placing wires in the hands of a detainee and telling him he would be electrocuted if he fell off a box.
Graner, of Uniontown, Pa., is scheduled for trial beginning Jan. 7. Davis's trial will begin Feb. 2. Harman's trial date has not yet been determined, according to Fort Hood officials.