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Abu Ghraib Article 39A Hearings Held in Germany

American Forces Press Service

MANHEIM, Germany, Aug. 25, 2004 – Article 39a hearings were held here Aug. 23 and 24 for four soldiers named in the Abu Ghraib Prison abuse investigation.

Military judges typically use Article 39a hearings to arraign the accused, to hear and decide on motions raised by the defense or the prosecution, or to perform other procedural functions, officials said. The military judge, the prosecutor, the defense counsel and the accused are present at the hearings.

Spcs. Megan Ambuhl and Charles Graner appeared before military judge Col. James Pohl on Aug. 23, and Staff Sgt. Ivan Frederick and Sgt. Javal Davis appeared before Pohl the next day. All had civilian attorneys present for the sessions, as well as their appointed military defense lawyers. The pre-trial hearings were moved to Germany after defense attorneys expressed concerns about security in Baghdad, Iraq.

Each defense team made motions to compel discovery. Pohl gave the U.S. government until Sept. 10 to provide the defense with the requested reports and documents, which include the Fay/Jones and Church investigation reports. The judge also ordered the release of a report to the defense about the Army's Criminal Investigational Division's investigation procedures and the Schlesinger panel report.

Davis and Graner moved to suppress evidence, which included statements they made while being interviewed by CID agents. The judge denied both motions. Attorneys for Frederick and Graner requested a change of venue because some witnesses could not be compelled to come to Iraq to testify. Both motions were denied. The judge explained in his ruling that video testimony and depositions could be used.

Through their attorneys, Frederick and Davis sought immunity from prosecution for several people so they may testify for the defense. These motions were denied.

Davis's attorney asked the judge to compel Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld to be interviewed. The judge denied the motion, ruling that the defense failed to make a connection between the accused and actions and orders from Rumsfeld.

The defense teams for Frederick and Ambuhl both asked to add psychiatric experts. The judge granted the request from Frederick's team to add Dr. Frank Zimbardo to the defense team. Ambuhl's team's request for Dr. Craig Haney to assist in their defense was not approved. The judge did, however, order the government to supply a psychology expert by Sept. 2.

Ambuhl also had three additional charges dismissed without prejudice: one count of conspiracy and two counts of maltreatment of detainees. The prosecution may have these charges reinvestigated and added back into the original charges.

The next hearing dates will be Oct. 20 for Frederick, Oct. 21 for Davis and Graner, and Oct. 22 for Ambuhl. The hearings will be held in Baghdad.

(Courtesy of the Coalition Press Information Center, Baghdad, Iraq.)

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