CAIRO, Egypt – U.S. military prosecutors have decided to prosecute three American soldiers from Pennsylvania on charges of abusing Iraqi prisoners of war, a U.S. Army spokesman said Friday.
Maj. Victor Harris, spokesman for the Kuwait-based U.S. Land Forces Component Command (search), said the three will be formally charged on Saturday in an arraignment hearing at Camp Doha, Kuwait, which is under the command of the Third U.S. Army.
The charges grew out of an alleged incident May 12 at a U.S. detention facility, Camp Bucca (search), in southern Iraq. The three soldiers, from the 320th Military Police Battalion, based in Ashley, Pa., are accused of punching and kicking Iraqi POWs while escorting them to Camp Bucca.
Following an inquiry into the alleged incident, U.S. military investigators recommended bringing charges, which have since been filed by the Third Army's commanding general, Lt. Gen. David D. McKiernan. Saturday will be the first time the charges are formally read out to the accused soldiers.
The soldiers have said they acted in self-defense, that conditions were chaotic at Camp Bucca, and that guards had been harassed and assaulted daily by unruly prisoners.
The three soldiers, Master Sgt. Lisa Marie Girman, 35; Staff Sgt. Scott A. McKenzie, 38; and Spc. Timothy F. Canjar, 21, are accused of dereliction of duty, cruelty and maltreatment of enemy prisoners of war, filling false official statements, obstruction of justice and conspiracy to obstruct justice.
A fourth soldier originally held on the same allegations, Sgt. Shawna Edmondson, 24, has received a discharge from the military, which she requested rather than face martial proceedings.
The soldiers, who had been stationed at Camp Bucca, were moved to Camp Doha (search) several months ago and suspended from normal duties, but are performing administrative tasks.
During Saturday's arraignment, the three soldiers will be able to enter pleas, and a date for the court martial is expected to be set. The court martial will be held at both Camp Doha and at Camp Bucca to allow Iraqi prisoners of war to testify.