Muslim in Suffer

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Former Soldier Accused of Brutal Rape and Murder of 14-Year Old Iraqi Girl Starts Trial

Posted by musliminsuffer on May 1, 2009

In the Name of Allah, the Compassionate, the Merciful

=== News Update ===

Former Soldier Accused of Brutal Rape and Murder of 14-Year Old Iraqi Girl Starts Trial

23-year-old Steven Green is accused of bragging ‘that was awesome’ after the premeditated killing of Abeer Qasim Hamza al-Janabi and her family.

Posted by Liliana Segura, AlterNet at 11:00 AM on April 29, 2009.


It was called one of the most horrific crimes by U.S. troops against Iraqi civilians: In March 2006, a group of whiskey-fueled soldiers, their faces concealed and wearing black long underwear, descended upon a farmhouse some 20 miles south of Baghdad, gang-raped a teenage girl and shot her in the head, killing her along with her younger sister and their parents. The soldiers then tried to burn the bodies, setting fire to the house.

The grisly crime was initially blamed on insurgents — “This is what happens when you harbor terrorists,” a military translator told a relative after the bodies were found — but three months later, the truth was revealed, when a fellow soldier from the unit told combat-stress counselors about what had happened.

Initial reports claimed that the girl, Abeer Qasim Hamza al-Janabi, was in her 20s. But her Iraqi ID card, obtained by Reuters, showed her date of birth is confirmed to be August 19, 1991, making her 14 years old at the time of her death.

News reports of the incident describe it as a “premeditated” act — and indeed it was. A federal affidavidt tells the story of how the soldiers, stationed at a traffic checkpoint near the town of Mahmoudiya some 1,000 feet from Abeer’s home, would often stop by the house just to stare at her.

According to a 2006 article in TIME magazine, “Her mother, who grew concerned enough to make plans for Abeer to move in with a cousin, told relatives that whenever she caught the Americans ogling her daughter, they would give her the thumbs-up sign, point to the girl and say, ‘Very good, very good.'”

“Abeer’s brother Mohammed, 13, told TIME he once watched his sister, frozen in fear, as a U.S. soldier ran his index finger down her cheek. Mohammed has since learned that soldier’s name: Steven Green.”

Today, Steven D. Green, 23, stands trial for planning and leading the assault and massacre of Abeer and her family. A former Private First Class from the 101st Airborne Division who was honorably discharged with a “personality disorder” soon after the killings, Green became the first person identified as one of the perpetrators of the grisly crime, which has been compared to the notorious Haditha massacre in 2005. His trial began this week, at a U.S. District Court in Paducah, Kentucky.

Green was arrested in North Carolina in June 2006, days after the real story came to light, Because his role in the massacre was uncovered following his discharge, he is being prosecuted in federal, rather than military court. (Four other soldiers involved in the massacre have already been court martialed, sentenced to five to 100 years in prison.)

Green, who, despite having told an Army investigator “I did that; I killed them,” is pleading not guilty to the charges against him, which include conspiracy, rape, murder, unlawful use of a weapon and obstruction of justice. He is reportedly the first former soldier to face trial in a civilian court for conduct during war. He faces the death penalty.

According to TIME:

Over the past year, Green’s lawyers have filed several motions challenging the Military Extraterritorial Jurisdiction Act (MEJA) of 2000 and 2004, a law designed to close the loophole that enabled military contractors or the spouses of servicemen and servicewomen to escape punishment for crimes committed abroad. Green’s lawyers (as well as several military law experts) have maintained that MEJA was never intended to cover cases like his, but, in August, U.S. District Judge Thomas Russell upheld its constitutionality.

Unbelievably, “Green has offered to re-enlist in the Army and face a court-martial;” unsuprisingly, “that request has also been denied.”

In his opening statement on Monday, attorney Patrick Bouldin, a public defender, tried to contextualize the killings as the horrible consequences of a hellish situation. “You have to understand the background that leads up to this perfect storm of insanity,” he told the jury, according to Reuters.

“They couldn’t tell the village people and the farmers from the insurgents and the terrorists,” he said.

But federal prosecutor Brian Skaret described how Green bragged about the murders afterward, telling people “that was awesome” at a celebratory barbeque afterward.

Meanwhile, Abu Firas Janabi, the cousin of Abeer’s mother, was the first to find the bodies. “Never in my mind could I have imagined such a gruesome sight,”he recalled, describing how he found Abeer with her head smashed in “by a concrete block or a piece of iron.”

“There were burns from the bottom of her stomach to the end of her body, except for her feet,” he said.

“I did not believe what I was seeing. I tried to fool myself into believing I was in a dream. But the problem was that we were not dreaming. We put a piece of cloth over her body. Then I left the house together with my wife.”



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