Abu Ghraib Abuse Prosecutions Move Forward

One Virginia-based soldier charged in the Abu Ghraib prison scandal unexpectedly decided Tuesday to go ahead with a hearing without private counsel while the Army scheduled the military equivalent of a grand jury hearing for another.

Staff Sgt. Ivan L. "Chip" Frederick II (search) of Buckingham, Va., decided to proceed with a pretrial hearing on Tuesday, one day after he opted to postpone it because his civilian lawyer, Gary Myers, did not appear in Iraq, Maj. Carolyn Dysart said.

Frederick's military lawyer, Capt. Robert Shuck, said Monday that Myers wanted to participate by telephone because coming to Iraq "places people in peril for their lives."

The judge, Col. James Pohl, angrily dismissed the suggestion, saying that he had received and denied a previous e-mail request from Myers to take part by phone. The judge had postponed the matter until July 23.

Fredeick's wife, Martha Frederick, said in a telephone interview that the swiftly changing developments had her on an emotional roller coaster.

"But I have faith in Captain Shuck and I feel that he will do the best that he can. I know they're being pressured. I just want what's right for Chip," she said.

"I can see now, though, how political this is and I'm sure the rest of the world can see it — that this is a trial based on winning an election. They want to punish these people in front of the Iraqis," Martha Frederick said.

In a related case, Spc. Sabrina Harman (search) of Lorton, Va., was to face an Article 32 hearing, similar to a grand jury in civilian criminal cases, to determine if the 26-year-old will face court martial, the U.S. command said Tuesday.

The session, known as an Article 32 hearing, will determine if the 26-year-old will face court martial.

The session will be held Thursday, a military spokeswoman, Lt. Beatriz Yarrish, said. A military official said the defendant undergoing the hearing was Megan Ambuhl (search), 29, of Centreville, Va., but Yarrish said her Article 32 hearing has aleady been held.

Harman and Frederick are among seven defendants who are accused of abusing prisoners at the Abu Ghraib prison, west of Baghdad.

After a pre-trial hearing in Baghdad on Monday, lawyers for two of the defendants said their clients were following orders by senior officers and military intelligence.

Harman, a member of the 372nd Military Police Company (search), is seen in photographs published internationally since the scandal broke smiling over a pile of naked prisoners.