Abu Ghraib 'ringleader' convicted of prisoner abuse

US Army reservist Charles Graner, the reputed ringleader of a band of rogue guards at Baghdad’s notorious Abu Ghraib prison, was convicted tonight of abusing Iraqi detainees.

US Army reservist Charles Graner, the reputed ringleader of a band of rogue guards at Baghdad’s notorious Abu Ghraib prison, was convicted tonight of abusing Iraqi detainees.

The case sparked international outrage when photographs were released showing guards gleefully torturing and sexually humiliating prisoners.

Spc Graner, the first soldier to be tried on charges arising from the scandal, was convicted of all five charges and faces up to 17 and a half years behind bars.

The jury at Ford Hood, Texas, took less than five hours to reach its verdict.

The verdict came after a five-day trial in which prosecutors depicted Graner, 36, as a sadistic soldier who took great pleasure in seeing detainees suffer.

He was accused of stacking naked prisoners in a human pyramid and later ordering them to masturbate while other soldiers took photographs. He also allegedly punched one man in the head hard enough to knock him out, and struck an injured prisoner with a collapsible metal stick.

The jury of four US Army officers and six senior enlisted men rejected the defence argument that Graner and other guards were merely following orders from intelligence agents at Abu Ghraib when they roughed up the detainees.

Graner, from Uniontown, Pennsylvania, was convicted of conspiracy, assault, maltreating prisoners, dereliction of duty and committing indecent acts.

Each count required that at least seven of the 10 jurors to agree for conviction.

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