A military court hearing is under way for a US Army reservist at the center of the Iraqi prisoner abuse scandal.

An Army investigator testified Tuesday that Pfc. Lynndie England and other members of her unit told him that photos of naked Iraqi prisoners piled in pyramids and other humiliating poses were taken “just for fun.”

As a military hearing started to determine if England should be court-martialed for her actions at Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq, Paul D. Arthur testified that when he interviewed her, three months before the prison photos became public in April, she told him the shots were taken while “they were joking around, having some fun, working the night shift.”

England’s demeanor as she arrived for the hearing contrasted with the images of a jaunty young woman shown in the photos. England was visibly pregnant beneath her green camouflage uniform and wore a black beret. Her expression was serious and subdued, and she looked down as she approached the courthouse and dozens of reporters and photographers.

Arthur said he believed the reservists from the 372nd Military Police Company, based on Cresaptown, Md., were responding to the stress of being in a war zone.

“It was just for fun, kind of venting their frustration,” Arthur testified.

The hearing is designed to gather evidence that will be used to decide if England will be court-martialed. The Article 32 hearing is the military equivalent of a grand jury in civilian court, but it is open and the defendant attends it.

Defense lawyers have said England was following orders when she was photographed mocking the detainees and that the U.S. government has made her a scapegoat for an incident that stirred anger in the Arab world.

But Arthur said that although England initially told him military intelligence officers allowed the reservists to take the photographs for use in interrogating other prisoners, there was no indication that ever happened.

“No one said they were going to turn them over to military intelligence,” he testified.

In cross-examination, England’s military lawyer, Capt. Jonathan Crisp, pressed Arthur about whether military intelligence officers ordered the reservists to take the pictures.

Arthur said officials continue to investigate the use of military intelligence techniques at the prison, but added that in his interviews with 372nd members, “none of them stated that (military intelligence) specifically told them (to do this), except for the statement I got from Pfc. England.”

England’s demeanor as she arrived for the hearing contrasted with the images of a jaunty young woman shown in the photos. England was visibly pregnant beneath her green camouflage uniform and wore a black beret. Her expression was serious and subdued, and she looked down as she approached the courthouse and dozens of reporters and photographers.

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