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Prosecutors Claim England Not On Official Business At Time Of Iraq Prison Abuse

Posted August 4, 2004

— Was she an exhibitionist who did not follow orders, or was she just doing what she was told? That has become the question at the heart of Army pvt. Lynndie England's preliminary hearing.

England is one of the soldiers charged in the Iraq prisoner abuse scandal. Right from the start, she has said she was just following orders, that her chain of command made her pose for pictures humiliating prisoners.

"I was told: 'Stand there,'" England said in May. "'Point. Give the thumbs-up. Take the picture. Smile. Look at the picture.'"

Prosecutors spent Wednesday trying to prove England was not on official business, that she was not even supposed to be at Abu Ghraib prison but chose to socialize instead of following orders.

Soldiers who worked at the prison testified by phone. They said England had "no official duties" there.

Some witnesses did not discuss the prison specifically but spoke in general terms. They gave examples of times England disobeyed orders.

Meanwhile, other soldiers focused on more sexually-explicit topics. Two testified that England posed topless for photos more than once.

England's lawyers did not dwell on the content of the pictures as much as the circumstances surrounding them. They asked witnesses whether those soldiers knew -- or could have known -- the entire story.

Specialist Matthew Bolinger, England's supervisor in Iraq, said England performed sloppy paperwork in her job because of illicit, late-night visits to an area of the prison where detainees were abused.

Bolinger told the court at Fort Bragg that England was repeatedly disciplined for sneaking into the prison's fortified area to visit her boyfriend. She is now pregnant with his child.

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