Friday, February 23, 2007

Update: Murder & Rape in Iraq - US Soldier gets 100 Year Sentance

Soldier Gets 100 Years for Rape, Killing

Sgt. Paul E. Cortez, 24, also was given a dishonorable discharge. He will be eligible for parole in 10 years under the terms of his plea agreement.

Cortez, of Barstow, Calif., pleaded guilty this week to four counts of felony murder, rape and conspiracy to rape in a case considered among the worst atrocities by U.S. military personnel in Iraq.

"I still don't have an answer," Cortez told the judge. "I don't know why. I wish I hadn't. The lives of four innocent people were taken. I want to apologize for all of the pain and suffering I have caused the al-Janabi family."

The military judge hearing the case, Col. Stephen R. Henley, issued a sentence of life in prison without parole, the maximum for the charges. Under military law, the defendant is given the lesser sentence unless he violates terms of the plea agreement, which requires Cortez to testify against others charged in the case.

Psychologist Charles Figley testified that Cortez and the other soldiers likely suffered stress brought on by fatigue and trauma.

Cortez was found not guilty of more serious charges of premeditated murder and conspiracy to premeditated murder.

Original story:

US soldiers admitts to rape of 14yr old and then killing her and her family

Sgt. Paul E. Cortez, 24, entered the plea Tuesday to four murders, rape and conspiracy to rape. With the approval of the plea agreement by Col. Stephen R. Henley, Cortez will avoid the death penalty.

Cortez is one of five soldiers charged in gang raping Abeer Qassim al-Janabi and murdering her and her family in Mahmudiya Iraq.

A second US soldier Spc. James P. Barkerr, 24, pleaded guilty in November to rape and murder and was sentenced to 90 years in military prison

Sgt. Cortez said that he conspired with three other soldiers - Pfc. Jesse V. Spielman, Spc. James P. Barker and Steven D. Green in the crimes. Another soldier Bryan Howard is also being charged for crimes relating to this event.

Jesse Spielman, 22, and Bryan Howard, 23, await courts-martial. Howard, who is confined to the post, was in the courtroom Tuesday observing Cortez's case. Green is charged in federal court in Kentucky, accused of being the ringleader. He is being tried as a civilian because he was discharged from the Army for a "personality disorder" before his superiors were aware of his suspected involvement.

Cortez also pleaded guilty to helping get rid of the murder weapon, an AK-47, which was thrown into a canal. He also admitted to drinking whisky prior to the attack, a violation of army rules against alcohol in that area of Iraq.

Cortez also pleaded guilty to arson and breaking into the girl's house.

Cortez had pleaded not guilty to separate charges of conspiracy to premeditated murder and premeditated murder, and a court-martial on those charges was scheduled to begin later Wednesday.


Cortez, wearing a dress green uniform and flanked by his civilian and military lawyers, described how he, Spc. James Barker and Pvt. Steven Green, planned the attack over liquor and a game of cards.

"While we were playing cards Barker and Green started talking about having sex with an Iraqi female. Barker and Green had already known..." Cortez said before breaking down. He bowed his head and remained silent, sniffling occasionally, for a full minute before continuing.

"Barker and Green had already known what, um, house they wanted to go to ... knew only one male was in the house, and knew it would be an easy target," Cortez said.

Even with these admissions Cortez did not agree that the rape and murder were premeditated.

Alex Pickands, the prosecuting lawyer, said the soldiers "gathered together over cards and booze" last year in Baghdad and came up with a plan to rape and murder the girl.


Even if premeditation is not proven, the sentencing options are the same: a maximum of life in prison without parole or a minimum of life in prison with the possibility of parole. Barker and Cortez both avoided the death penalty by pleading guilty.

Details of the Crimes

Cortez said Pvt. Steven Green, was the ringleader Green took the girl's mother, father and little sister into a bedroom,, while he and Barker took the teenager, Abeer Qassim al-Janabi, to the living room.

"She kept squirming and trying to keep her legs closed and saying stuff in Arabic," Cortez said.

"During the time me and Barker were raping Abeer, I heard five or six gunshots that came from the bedroom. After Barker was done, Green came out of the bedroom and said that he had killed them all, that all of them were dead," Cortez said.

"Green then placed himself between Abeer's legs to rape her," Cortez said, sniffing audibly. When Green was finished, he "stood up and shot Abeer in the head two or three times." The entire crime took about five minutes to carry out, he added.

Cortez said the girl knew her parents and sister had been shot while she was being raped. He said she screamed and cried throughout the assault.

Other details

The March 2006 killing of the family was originally reported to be the work of insurgents

The Mahmudiya case was one of several killings and abuses involving US soldiers. It prompted Iraqi officials to call for a review of foreign troops' immunity from prosecution in Iraq.

The trial was adjourned after less than three hours so that lawyers could discuss Cortez's involvement in the burning of the girl's body in an attempt to cover up the attack.

Posted 2/21/07 by Paul Grant (follower of Basho)

No comments:

amazon quicklinker

Favorites linker

google adds