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Iraqi detainees to testify against Abu Ghraib captor

Three Iraqi detainees who allegedly were abused at the Abu Ghraib prison by American soldiers will be among the 35 witnesses called to testify in the military trial of Spc. Charles Graner, the army reservist and alleged ringleader of the abuse who is due to be court-martialed here next week.

A jury of 10 military officers and enlisted men was empaneled in one hour Friday, after being quizzed about their ability to be impartial. Opening statements are scheduled for Monday.

One officer, who was ultimately dismissed, said he could not be impartial, noting that he was affected by the media images of the abuse. Photographs of the Army specialist giving a thumbs-up behind naked Iraqi detainees piled in a pyramid rocked the international community and embarrassed the Bush administration, setting off months of investigations and charges.

The all-male panel will hear from the prisoners by videotape; one of them will be a defense witness. The jurors will also hear testimony from Graner's alleged co-conspirators, some of whom have already pleaded guilty to charges arising from the abuse. Graner faces up to 17{ years in prison and is the first of several reservists to stand for a full-fledged court-martial. His attorney, Guy Womack, said Friday that he has not decided whether to put Graner on the stand but that the soldier was an "outstanding candidate" do so.

At least seven members of the jury must agree for a conviction, and eight must agree to a sentence of more than 10 years in prison.

Graner on Friday pleaded not guilty to charges of conspiracy, assault and humiliating the prisoners by forcing them to pose in sexual positions at the prison near Baghdad. "No matter what happens, we're good to go," Graner said. "There's been ups and downs, but the ups have so outweighed the downs. Whatever happens is going to happen. I feel it's going to be on the positive side."

Womack reiterated the defense Friday, saying that Graner was following "lawful" orders when he abused the prisoners.

Also ...

DEADLY DAY: A Marine was killed in a nonhostile vehicle accident in the western province of Anbar, the U.S. military said. The incident is under investigation, and the name of the Marine was being withheld until his family can be notified. A police captain was killed in a drive-by shooting in Abu Ghraib west of Baghdad, police said. In the northern city of Mosul, gunmen shot to death a policeman walking near his house. In the central city of Samarra, a roadside bomb exploded near a U.S. military base, killing an Iraqi, police Capt. Hashim Yassin said.

BODY FOUND: The body of a civilian truck driver missing since April has been found near Baghdad, where his convoy was ambushed in Iraq nine months ago. William Bradley, 50, lived in New Hampshire before going to Iraq nearly a year ago to drive trucks for Texas-based Halliburton Co., which on Thursday announced the discovery of his remains.

ARMORED VEHICLES: The Army is planning to spend $84-million to armor hundreds of older troop carriers for service in Iraq. The Navy and Air Force have offered to send mechanics to Kuwait to assist in welding armor to vehicles already awaiting protection, officials said.

HELP FOR DOGS: There has been an overwhelming response to a request from Army Reserve Capt. Gabriella Cook for food shipments for bomb-smelling police dogs. Offers of help poured in from New Hampshire, Florida, Texas, Ohio and New York. The Las Vegas Valley Humane Society is now trying to find a way to ship pallets of dry dog food to Iraq to feed the 12 undernourished German shepherds and one black Labrador retriever at the Iraqi Police Academy. To learn more: www.lvvhumane.org.

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