BBC World News – 2006-11-16 23:13:52
Iraq Rape Soldier Jailed for Life
BBC World News
(November 16, 2006) — A US soldier who raped a 14-year-old Iraqi girl and helped to kill her family has been sentenced to life in prison with possible parole.
Specialist James Barker was one of four serving soldiers charged over the killings in the Iraqi town of Mahmudiya in March 2006. He pleaded guilty and agreed to help prosecutors in an effort to avoid the death penalty.
He could serve up to 90 years in prison, the presiding judge said. “This court sentences you to be confined for the length of your natural life, with the eligibility of parole,” Lt Col Richard Anderson said.
He is expected to be eligible for parole in 20 years.
Specialist Barker was among four soldiers accused of the rape of the girl and the murder of her family.
The three others – Sgt Paul Cortez, Private Jesse Spielman and Private Bryan Howard – are facing court-martial proceedings.
A fifth man, former soldier Stephen Green, has been charged in a civilian court in Kentucky with murder and sexual assault. He has denied the charges.
‘I Hated Iraqis’
Before the judgement was handed down on Thursday, James Barker told the court that Mr Green had come up with the plan for the rape and killings.
“He brought it up to me and asked me what I thought about it,” Barker said.
“By the time we started changing clothes, it was more or less a non-verbal agreement that we were going to go along with what we were discussing.”
He also confessed that he “hated Iraqis”, telling the judge: “They can smile at you, then shoot you in your face without even thinking about it.”
But he added that Iraq had made him “angry and mean” yet that he regretted his actions, telling the court he did not set out to kill or deliberately harm people in Iraq.
“I want the people of Iraq to know that I did not go there to do the terrible things that I did. I do not ask anyone to forgive me today.”
Military prosecutors did not comment after the judgement was passed because the three other soldiers still face courts-martial.
Prison for Marine over Iraq Death
BBC World News
(November 16, 2006) — A US marine has become the third serviceman to be sentenced for his part in killing a 52-year-old man in Iraq.
Lance Cpl Tyler Jackson, 23, received a 21-month prison sentence after pleading guilty to reduced charges and agreeing to testify against fellow soldiers.
He is one of eight to be implicated in the attack seven months ago in Hamdaniya in which an unarmed man died.
A Navy medic, Melson Bacos, and marine John Jodka have already been jailed for a year and for 18 months respectively.
The terms of their sentences were reduced because they had made pre-trial agreements.
Similarly, in Jackson’s case military judge Lt Col Joseph Lisiecki sentenced the marine to nine years in jail, but a deal with prosecutors meant the actual term was limited to 21 months, of which he has already served six.
Speaking at the hearing, held at Camp Pendleton, California, Jackson expressed regret for his failure to prevent the killing.
“I wish I’d had the courage to prevent his death,” he said. His defence lawyer said he had been led astray.
The BBC’s David Willis, in California, says other more senior officers among the defendants are expected to face kidnapping and murder charges.
They could face the death penalty if convicted in trials that are likely to drag on towards the end of 2007, our correspondent says.
It is alleged that the eight-strong team went looking for a suspected insurgent.
When they failed to find him the men became frustrated and dragged a disabled grandfather from his home, bound and beat him and then shot dead.
The case comes on the heels of the US mid-term elections, where Iraq featured as a key issue for voters.
Our correspondent says the case will feed into public disquiet about the conduct of the war in Iraq.
In another high profile case, US soldiers are facing the prospect of prosecution over the deaths of 24 Iraqis at Haditha in November 2005.
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