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Soldier Appears for Hearing on Prison Abuse

A U.S. soldier accused in the Iraq prisoner abuse scandal (search) appeared Thursday for the military equivalent of a grand jury hearing, the U.S. command said.

Spc. Sabrina Harman (search), 26, of Lorton, Va., faces criminal charges and a possible court martial for her alleged involvement in abusing Iraqi detainees at the Abu Ghraib prison outside Baghdad.

Harman, of the 372nd Military Police Company, appeared for an Article 32 (search) hearing, which is called to determine whether facts in the case are sufficient to warrant a court-martial or other punishment.

Several witnesses testified "both in the courthouse and telephonically," Col. Jill Morgenthaler said.

The hearing is expected to reconvene and conclude Friday, Morgenthaler said.

In a notorious photograph, Harman is shown standing with another soldier behind naked, hooded Iraqi prisoners stacked in a pyramid at Abu Ghraib (search).

Harmon is one of six soldiers who still face charges in the scandal. Spc. Jeremy C. Sivits has already pleaded guilty and been sentenced to a year in prison.

Harman has said she and other members of the her military police company took direction from Army military intelligence officers, CIA operatives and civilian contractors conducting interrogations.

An Army report obtained by The New Yorker magazine quotes Harman as saying her job was to keep detainees awake. One hooded prisoner was placed on a box with wires attached to his fingers, toes and genitals.

She has told The Washington Post she was assigned to break down prisoners for interrogation, though she and other members of the reserve unit from Maryland unit had never been trained for such a job.

She said those who brought in the prisoners "would set the standards on whether or not to `be nice."'

Harmon is being defended by Frank Spinner, a retired lieutenant colonel in the Air Force who has successfully defended soldiers on charges ranging from adultery and dereliction of duty to rape and manslaughter.

Spinner, 53, left the military in 1994 to open a law office in Virginia. He returned to Colorado a few years ago and has handled more than 200 cases, working alone most of the time except for the help of appointed military lawyers.