Saturday, September 5, 2009
A former US soldier has been sentenced to life in prison for raping a teen and murdering her and her family while on active duty in Iraq. The jury failed to reach the unanimous verdict required for the death penalty sought by the prosecution.
|[…] if I had never gone to Iraq I would never have got caught up in anything like this|
According to testimony given by two soldiers, Steven Dale Green was part of a group who decided they wanted to rape a girl they had seen walking through her village, 14-year-old Abeer Qassim al-Janabi. They walked to her house while disguised as insurgents and separated her from her parents and younger sister.
Green then shot dead Abeer’s family while two other soldiers raped the girl. He then raped her himself while she wept before covering her face with a pillow and fatally shooting her. The gang then covered her naked body with a blanket soaked in kerosene, using a lighter to start a fire before walking 200 yards to a nearby checkpoint where they cooked a meal.
Green had already been discharged from the army when his crimes were discovered. He had previously spoken of a desire to murder Iraqi civilians and his defence argued he should never have been allowed to return to duty. A nurse had decided he would not carry out his desires. A US civilian court tried him, the first such prosecution of a soldier under a law allowing servicemen to be charged with crimes carried out abroad.
The judge described his actions as “unimaginable, unjustified and inexcusable” and sentenced him to five consecutive life sentences without possibility of parole. Four others had already been sentenced. Three are all serving life with parole after ten years, and a fourth who acted as a lookout is serving a 27-month sentence.
It took months for the offences to be discovered, even though Green had quickly confessed to a sergeant. Soldiers speaking to stress counsellors talked of the crimes after the abduction and murders of two other soldiers. When news of the soldiers’ actions broke, insurgents killed several American servicemen in revenge.
The prosecution described Green as “criminal and perverse” while the defence called him a “broken warrior.” Green said he was acting upon orders from former Specialist Paul Cortez, another of the attackers, and told the court “Y’all can act like I’m a psychopath or a sexual predator or whatever. But if I had never gone to Iraq I would never have got caught up in anything like this.”