Soldier pleads guilty to murder and rape of Iraqis; will testify against against others
He pled, according to his lawyer, to avoid the death penalty.
One of four U.S. soldiers accused of raping an Iraqi girl last spring and killing her and her family pleaded guilty Wednesday and will testify against the others.
Spc. James P. Barker agreed to the plea deal to avoid the death penalty, said his civilian attorney, David Sheldon.
The killings in Mahmoudiya, a village about 20 miles south of Baghdad, were among the worst in a series of alleged attacks on civilians and other abuses by military personnel in Iraq.
Sgt. Paul E. Cortez and Pfc. Jesse V. Spielman, both members of the 101st Airborne Division with Barker, could face the death penalty if convicted in the case in courts-martial at Fort Campbell.
The alleged ringleader, former Army private Steve Green, 21, pleaded not guilty last week to charges including murder and sexual assault.
I remember the reports of the 1968 My Lai Massacre seemingly everday on the news in 1971.
If this murder and rape case goes to trial, one would hope that it would be on television so we could see what soldiers out of control can do. As it is, I'm sure we will have detailed accounts of it.
The United States does not want to be a member of the International Criminal Court because we do not want our soldiers and elected officials subject to the jurisdiction of a war crimes tribunal. President Clinton signed on to the treaty creating the ICC in the waning days of his administration, the Senate never getting to ratify, and President Bush disavowed it.
To prove we believe in the concept of international law, however, we have to try punish own who have been found guilty of war crimes. If not, the superiors who condone or refuse to act are themselves guilty of violations of the Geneva Convention, which Attorney General Alberto Gonzalez said was so "quaint" that it could be made "flexible" out of existence. MSNBC has an excellent piece on the Roots of Torture.
We have already treaded dangerously close to the edge of the limits of the Geneva Convention, if not already falling over it, in torturing people for information.
If a factually verifiable prosecution of soldiers for unjustified homicide and a never justifiable rape is not pursued, then we are the bad guys, too.
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