FORT BRAGG, N.C. – The sergeant who blew the whistle on the Iraqi prisoner abuse scandal said he agonized over whether to turn in his fellow soldiers but ultimately decided to hand over the photos they had taken because he feared the mistreatment would continue.
Sgt. Joseph Darby (search) testified by telephone from an undisclosed location Friday at a pretrial hearing for Pfc. Lynndie England (search), who faces charges that include mistreatment of prisoners.
He said there was some confusion over whether the military police or intelligence officers ran the section of the Abu Ghraib (search) prison where the photos were taken. But he denied England's claim that she and others were told by intelligence operatives to "soften up" prisoners for interrogation.
"It violated everything I personally believed in and all I'd been taught about the rules of war," said Darby, who has known England since they were in basic training with their Maryland-based Army Reserve unit. "These people were my friends. It's a hard call to have to make the decision to put your friends in prison."
The Article 32 hearing is to determine whether England, 21, a member of the 372nd Military Police Company, should face a court-martial on 13 counts of abusing detainees and six counts stemming from possession of sexually explicit photos. If convicted, she could get up to 38 years in prison.
The hearing continues Saturday, for a fifth day, when military judge Col. Denise Arn decides how many -- if any -- of the defense's 160 proposed witnesses should be called. The list includes Vice President Dick Cheney and Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld.
Prosecutors also expected to call Spc. Jeremy C. Sivits, who already has pleaded guilty. He was sentenced to a year in prison.
Friday's testimony painted a picture of a prison in disarray, where it was often unclear whether guards or military intelligence officers were in charge and where barely trained reservists were often left to make decisions alone.
Darby turned over two compact discs of photos, including one that showed England holding a leash attached to a naked prisoner and another in which she smiled and pointed at the genitals of a hooded detainee.
He testified that he received the now-notorious photos in early December from Spc. Charles Graner, who England was having an affair with.
Darby, who is from Cresaptown, Md., where the 372nd is based, acknowledged Graner had showed him at least one prisoner abuse picture as far back as October. The still from a video camera was of a hooded detainee handcuffed to the bars of his cell.
He quoted Graner, a prison guard in civilian life, as telling him: "The Christian in me knows it's wrong, but the corrections officer in me can't help but love making a grown man piss himself."
Graner and England are among seven 372nd members who have been charged with abuse. Graner also faces adultery charges for having sex with England, who her lawyers say is seven months pregnant with his child.
Throughout the hearing, prosecutors have contended that England was part of a group of rogue reservists who went outside the chain of command to abuse prisoners for sport on the night shift at Abu Ghraib.
Defense attorney Rick Hernandez capped Friday's testimony by recalling four of England's colleagues to testify about guards engaging in sexually suggestive pranks.
"There is no evidence of them being rogue soldiers," he said, "unless the entire 372nd are also rogue soldiers."