[JURIST] Court-martial proceedings against US Army Sgt. Santos A. Cardona began Monday on charges of maltreatment of prisoners, dereliction of duty and assault connected to Cardona's alleged use of unmuzzled dogs [JURIST report] when questioning detainees at Iraq's Abu Ghraib prison [JURIST news archive]. A second dog handler, Sgt. Michael Smith, was convicted [JURIST report] earlier this year and sentenced to six months in jail [JURIST report] for similar abuse charges. Cardona faces over 16 years in prison if convicted on all charges.
Defense lawyers are expected to call US Army Maj. Gen. Geoffrey D. Miller [Wikipedia profile], the former commander of military intelligence at Guantanamo Bay [JURIST news archive], as one of their witnesses. Miller refused to testify in Smith's trial, citing his Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination, but Cardona's lawyers said in April that Miller is now willing to testify [JURIST report], which would make him the highest-ranking military officer to testify in the Abu Ghraib scandal. His testimony is expected to directly conflict with that of Col. Thomas Pappas [Wikipedia profile], the former top-ranking intelligence officer at Abu Ghraib. Pappas testified at Smith's court martial that Miller told him the use of dogs in interrogations had been successful at Guantanamo Bay, but Miller maintains that he recommended dogs be used to help control prisoners, not for interrogation purposes. Lead civilian lawyer Harvey Volzer expects Miller's testimony to help prove that Cardona simply followed approved orders from above. Pappas received a letter of reprimand and was relieved of command [Washington Post report] last year for failing to gain approval from superiors for using dogs at Abu Ghraib. Reuters has more. The Washington Post has additional coverage.