The three members of a military police reserve unit based in Pennsylvania were scheduled to be arraigned on Saturday at Camp Doha in Kuwait, an army statement said.

Master Sgt. Lisa Girman, 35, Staff Sgt. Scott McKenzie, 38, and Spc. Timothy Canjar, 21, were charged with cruelty and maltreatment of enemy prisoners of war, dereliction of duty, filling false official statements, obstruction of justice and conspiracy to obstruct justice, the army said.

The army said that if convicted Girman faces up to 25 years and three months in prison, McKenzie faces up to 23 years and Canjar up to 21 years and six months. The soldiers have said they acted in self-defence.

Punching and kicking

The charges follow an incident on 12 May at Camp Bucca in southern Iraq in which four US soldiers were accused of punching and kicking Iraqi prisoners while transporting them to a confinement facility.

The fourth soldier, Sgt. Shawna Edmondson, requested a discharge from the army rather than face court-martial.

The soldiers are expected to plead not guilty. No date has yet been set for the court-martial, which will be held at Camp Doha and Camp Bucca, the army said.

During an arraignment, charges generally are formally read to defendants, who may enter a plea, and motions may be made to the judge, the army said. The soldiers remain in Kuwait performing military duties pending trial.