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Prosecutors drop 2 charges against Graner ahead of Abu Ghraib abuse trial

[JURIST] Military prosecutors late Thursday dropped adultery and obstruction of justice charges against US Army Spc. Charles Graner on the eve of Friday's start of jury selection in his court-martial trial in connection with abuses of Iraqi prisoners at Abu Ghraib prison in Baghdad. In photos that precipitated an international scandal when they were released early in the spring of 2004, Graner, a former Pennsylvania prison guard and member of the 372nd Military Police Company, is seen posing with naked and abused humiliated Iraqi prisoners, in one picture even giving a thumbs-up sign over a corpse. The decision to drop the two charges in advance of trial may be part of an effort to focus the prosecution's case or may alternatively may reflect a lack of evidence. Charges of conspiracy to maltreat detainees; dereliction of duty for willfully failing to protect detainees from abuse; cruelty and maltreatment; maltreatment of detainees; assaulting detainees; and committing indecent acts stand. Graner's defense is said to be that he was simply following orders, somewhat problematic as under principles developed at the Nuremberg trials after World War II such a defense is impermissible. Graner's is the first Abu Ghraib-related trial to get under way. The court-martial is taking place at Fort Hood, Texas, where other soldiers involved in the abuse scandal, including Graner's colleague and alleged lover Pfc. Lynddie England, are awaiting their trial proceedings. Review the original charge sheet against Graner here. AP has more.

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