5 more U.S. soldiers charged in rape of Iraqi teen, slaying of family
TIKRIT, Iraq – Four more U.S. soldiers have been charged with rape and murder and a fifth with dereliction of duty in the alleged rape-slaying of a young Iraqi woman and the killings of her relatives in Mahmoudiya, the military said Sunday.The five were accused Saturday following an investigation into allegations that American soldiers from the 101st Airborne Division raped the teenager and killed her and three relatives at her home south of Baghdad.Ex-soldier Steven D. Green was arrested last week in North Carolina and has pleaded not guilty to one count of rape and four counts of murder. He was ordered held without bond on the charges, which carry a possible death penalty.The U.S. statement said the five soldiers still on active duty will face an Article 32 investigation, similar to a grand jury hearing in civilian law. The Article 32 proceeding will determine whether there is enough evidence to place them on trial.One of the soldiers was charged with failing to report the attack but is not believed to have participated in it directly, the statement said. The four facing murder charges could face the death penalty if convicted.The names of the five were not released, but a U.S. military official, speaking on condition of anonymity because of the ongoing investigation, said Sunday that the soldiers recently charged are two sergeants, two privates first-class and one specialist.The March 12 attack on the family was among the worst in a series of cases of U.S. troops accused of killing and abusing Iraqi civilians.U.S. officials are concerned the alleged rape-slaying will strain relations with the new U.S.-backed government and increase calls for changes in an agreement that exempts American soldiers from prosecution in Iraqi courts.Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki has demanded an independent investigation into the case, which followed a series of claims that U.S. troops killed and mistreated Iraqi civilians.According to an FBI affidavit filed in Green’s case, he and at least two others targeted the teenager and her family for a week before the attack, which was not revealed until witnesses came forward in late June.The soldiers drank alcohol, abandoned their checkpoint, changed clothes to avoid detection and headed to the victims’ house, about 200 yards from a U.S. military checkpoint in the so-called “Triangle of Death,” a Sunni Arab area south of Baghdad known for its violence, the affidavit said.The affidavit estimated the rape victim was about 25. But a doctor at the Mahmoudiya hospital gave her age as 14. He refused to be identified for fear of reprisals.Green is accused of raping the woman and killing her and three relatives – an adult male and female and a girl estimated to be 5 years old. An official familiar with the investigation said he set fire to the rape victim’s body in an apparent cover-up attempt.Iraqi authorities identified the rape victim as Abeer Qassim Hamza. The other victims were her father, Qassim Hamza; her mother, Fikhriya Taha; and her sister, Hadeel Qassim Hamza.