WASHINGTON – Lawyers for one of the soldiers accused of abusing prisoners in Iraq said Monday they will ask a military judge to throw out her confession, because they contend military investigators pressed her to talk after she had asked for an attorney.
Pfc. Lynndie England (search) is one of seven soldiers facing military charges in connection with the abuse at the Abu Ghraib (search) prison. She appears in several of the most well-known photographs from the prison, including one where she is holding a leash attached to a collar around the neck of a naked prisoner.
One of England's civilian lawyers, Rose Mary Zapor, said Army agents had violated England's rights by questioning her after she had asked for an attorney. Zapor said England's legal team would seek to have the confessions thrown out.
"She had invoked her right to counsel, and those statements are illegal. In a civilian court, those would be immediately suppressed," Zapor told The Associated Press in a telephone interview Monday. Defendants in military courts have the same rights to lawyers that criminal defendants have in civilian courts.
Zapor declined to discuss what England said. News reports have said England acknowledged participating in the abuse of prisoners and insisted the mistreatment was approved by military intelligence operatives.
England, 21, is charged with assaulting Iraqi detainees, conspiring with Spec. Charles Graner Jr. (search) to mistreat the prisoners and committing an indecent act by forcing prisoners to masturbate.
Zapor and another lawyer for England, Roy Hardy, said Monday they also will try to determine if the commanding general in Iraq knew about the abuses. The Washington Post reported Saturday that a military lawyer quoted a witness as saying the commander, Lt. Gen. Ricardo Sanchez (search), was at Abu Ghraib during some of the abuses.
In a statement, the military said that allegation was false.
Zapor said Sanchez had visited Abu Ghraib during the time period that the abuses happened, but she said she did not know how many times he was there. Showing that Sanchez knew about the mistreatment would support England's claims that the abuse was tolerated or endorsed by superior officers, Hardy said.
"That would show that the chain of command was aware of what was going on there," Hardy said.
Army officials have not scheduled England's Article 32 hearing — the proceeding where military prosecutors present evidence and a judge decides whether or not to go forward with a court-martial.
That hearing likely will be at Fort Bragg, N.C., where England has been assigned because she is pregnant. Graner is charged with adultery for having sex with England last October.