Testifying on Friday before a military court hearing to determine if Pfc Lynndie England – accused of abusing Iraqi inmates and photographed holding a naked Iraqi prisoner
on a leash – should stand trial, Sgt Hydrue Joyner recalled the Baghdad prison was a highly dangerous place.
The plain-spoken soldier – a member of England's 372nd Military Police Company - described the prison as painfully short on supplies. Prisoner jumpsuits were scarce and male inmates were given underwear meant for women inmates because it was the only thing available.
"The only thing I had was female underwear," he said. "I gave them what I had and said you can wear it or not wear it."
The testimony backed the contention of England's lawyers that Abu Ghraib was an unruly prison where inmates were often kept naked, guards were not trained and abuse complaints were ignored.
The prisoner abuse scandal that broke after pictures of inmates being humiliated and ill-treated emerged, shocked the world and irreversibly sullied US reputation.
England's lawyers have maintained that she was just following orders from higher-ups to soften up detainees for questioning.
A hearing is to determine whether
England (L) will stand trial
Joyner said he and many colleagues had no training as prison guards when they went to Abu Ghraib and worked minimum 12-hour days there.
"No one knew what we were supposed to do. Basically I was shooting from the hip and hoping to God I didn’t screw up," he said.
Another soldier testified he had heard of a prisoner who died during interrogation being kept on ice in a shower stall.
On Thursday, a witness testified she had heard of a liquor and prostitution ring at Abu Ghraib.
Stepping on detainees
According to a criminal investigator testifying on Friday, England admitted she "stepped on" inmates and said no one ordered her to abuse prisoners.
Sgt James Stewart, a military investigator, said he interviewed England on 5 May, showed her 23 pictures from Abu Ghraib and asked her questions about them.
When he asked her if she abused prisoners, "She said a couple times she had stepped on someone," Stewart said.
"She said she was never ordered to do that, and she didn't know if anyone told them to do it," he added, saying England told him they were trying to humiliate the prisoners.
Later in the interview, England said military Intelligence agents had told her to "keep it up; we were doing a good job."
England is among seven military police charged in the prison scandal. She is charged with 19 counts of prisoner abuse, committing indecent acts and disobeying orders. She faces up to 38 years in prison if convicted.