Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Court-martial recommended in Baghdad

Court-martial recommended in Baghdad
September 5, 2006
Copyright by The Associated Press

BAGHDAD, Iraq -- A U.S. Army investigator has recommended that four American soldiers accused of raping a 14-year-old girl and of killing her and her family face a court-martial, a lawyer in the case confirmed on Monday.

Col. Dwight Warren, the investigator in the case, said in a report issued Sunday that ''reasonable grounds exist to believe that each of the accused committed the offense for which he is charged.''

The report was given to lawyers in the case and obtained by a reporter from David Sheldon, the lawyer of one of the defendants.

The four soldiers of the 101st Airborne Division are charged with raping Abeer Qassim al-Janabi in her family's home in Mahmoudiya, then killing her along with her parents and her younger sister. Military prosecutors say the four set the teen's body on fire to hide their crime.

Unfair hearing?

The soldiers accused of rape and murder -- Spc. James P. Barker, Sgt. Paul E. Cortez, Pfc. Jesse V. Spielman and Pfc. Bryan L. Howard -- could potentially face the death penalty.

Sheldon, who is counsel to Barker, said the soldiers were abandoned by a military command that did not give them the support that they needed either in the field or in the courtroom.

''I'm not surprised given the events in this case. It was apparent that neither Spc. Barker nor any of the other soldiers were going to get a fair hearing,'' Sheldon said. He added that he would be filing an objection within the five days allowed after he received the recommendation from the investigator.

Meanwhile, police found the tortured, blindfolded bodies of 33 men scattered across Baghdad Monday and the U.S.-led coalition reported combat deaths of seven servicemen.



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