Sunday, August 06, 2006

Will there be a capital court martial?

I will be keeping my eye on this case as it progresses. It will almost certainly raise important questions about the death penalty. For those who practice in this area, the brutality of the alleged crimes is not unprecedented. In the U.S., charges like these are almost always tried as capital offenses. Can there be a "fair trial" under these circumstances? Is there a difference between Article 2 and Article 3 courts when it comes to the death penalty?

BAGHDAD (Reuters) - An Iraqi army medic described a scene of horror to a U.S. military hearing on Sunday that will decide if four U.S. soldiers are to be court-martialled for the murder and rape of an Iraqi girl and the killing of her family.

The medic, who was not named, said that when he entered the house in Mahmudiya in March, he found 14-year-old Abeer Qasim Hamza al-Janabi naked with her legs spread and burnt from the waist up, with a single bullet wound beneath her left eye. He also told the hearings he had found her six-year-old sister in an adjacent room with the back of her head blown out, and the bodies of both parents riddled with bullets.

The Mahmudiya case, the fifth involving serious crimes being investigated by the U.S. military in Iraq, has outraged Iraqis and led Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki to call for a review of foreign troops' immunity from Iraqi prosecution. The court heard testimony from three Iraqi witnesses on Sunday, the first day of proceedings. But the media covering the event were only allowed to record the comments of the medic, who said he was ill for weeks after witnessing the crime scene.

Military prosecutors are expected to lay out their case against Private First Class Jesse Spielman, Specialist James Barker, Sergeant Paul Cortez and Private First Class Bryan Howard, who face charges of rape and murder among others. If court-martialled and found guilty, they could face the death penalty.


Blogger vnjagvet said...


I will be watching this too. It will be interesting to see what the Article 32 Officer recommends.

BTW, you are doing a great job on this blog.

11:29 AM  

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