Wednesday, May 04, 2005

A Shocker?

A military judge Wednesday threw out Pfc. Lynndie England's guilty plea to abusing Iraqi detainees at Abu Ghraib prison, saying he was not convinced the Army reservist who appeared in some of the most notorious photos in the scandal knew her actions were wrong at the time.

The mistrial marks a stunning turn in the case and sends it back to square one.

Is Pohl another activist judge? Heh:

Pohl said her statement and Graner's could not be reconciled.

"You can't have a one-person conspiracy," the judge said before he declared the mistrial and dismissed the sentencing jury.

Under military law, the judge could formally accept her guilty plea only if he was convinced that she knew at the time that what she was doing was illegal.

By rejecting the plea to the conspiracy charge, Pohl canceled the entire plea agreement. The agreement had carried a maximum sentence of 11 years in prison, but the prosecution and defense had a deal that capped the sentence at a lesser punishment; the length was not released.

Neither prosecution nor defense lawyers would speak to reporters after the deal was discarded. England, shielded by her defense team, would not comment outside the courtroom.

Allen Rudy, a Dallas attorney, said Wednesday he could not recall a military plea being scrapped under such circumstances during his 25 years as a Navy lawyer and judge.

I think the judge was right. The whole thing smells of a protection scheme for the higher-ups.