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ISOLATED amid the chaos and often bizarre life inside Iraq's Abu Ghraib prison, US soldier Lynndie England posed in now notorious abuse photographs because she loved and trusted the scandal ringleader, her lawyer said at the start of her court-martial today.
England, 22, who was pictured holding a leash to a naked Iraqi prisoner, was lured into posing for the photographs that caused worldwide outrage by Charles Graner, the father of her baby, said military lawyer Captain Jonathan Crisp.
"What mattered to her was her relationship to Corporal Graner," said Captain Crisp, who added that Graner her superior, was 14 years older than England and had worked as a prison guard.
"She thinks: 'I love him, he loves me, he's not going to do something to hurt me'," Captain Crisp said in opening arguments.
The US Army Reserve Private First Class faces a maximum penalty of 11 years in jail if convicted on all seven counts on charges of conspiracy, maltreatment of subordinates and indecent acts. A military jury sentenced Graner to 10 years in prison earlier this year, and since his incarceration he has married another woman who pleaded guilty in the scandal.
US soldier Lynndie England seemed to enjoy the abuse of Iraqi prisoners at Abu Ghraib and once noted that a prisoner was sexually aroused, members of her unit testified at a court martial today.
"She was laughing, she seemed to be having a good time with all that was going on," said Private Jeremy Sivits, who has served a one-year sentence for his role in the abuse scandal.
England, 22, appears in some of the most infamous pictures of US abuse at Abu Ghraib, including an image in which she holds a leash to a naked Iraqi prisoner.
Sivits described the November 2003 night when England posed in front of prisoners who were forced into a naked human pyramid and later were lined up along a wall and forced to masturbate.
"She walked over on her own," Sivits said, describing an image in which England points at a prisoner's genitalia.
She "still seemed to be joking around, having a good time".
That soldier, Robert Jones, now a Baltimore policeman, said he did not act to end what has become one of the most notorious episodes of the US war in Iraq.
"I figured because of his experience he may have misinterpreted what he saw," Mr Jones testified about his initial inaction.
Wisdom returned a second time after seeing the forced masturbation to complain again. Mr Jones said he went to his superior, Ivan Frederick, who had forced the prisoners to masturbate. Mr Jones said he did not receive a response when he asked about the incident and he did not report the abuses to anyone else.
US soldier Lynndie England was so blindly obedient to her boyfriend she gave no thought to posing in the notorious photos of abuse at Iraq's Abu Ghraib prison, a defence psychologist testified today.
"Her compliant personality in the context of her relationship with Charles Graner explains those pictures," said Xavier Amador, a New York clinical psychologist.
Graner, 37, the abuse ringleader with whom she has a child, had asked her to pose in at least some of the Abu Ghraib images that incited worldwide condemnation when they were made public in April 2004.
Members of the five-man jury of officers sought to get to the heart of the matter and in written questions asked if England, 22, could tell right from wrong.
Judge Colonel James Pohl later told the jury the issue is legally irrelevant because the defence is not arguing that England was criminally insane and thus could not tell right from wrong.