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Iraqi Journalist Details Family Accounts of Iraq Rape, Killings
by Democracy Now (reposted)
Tuesday Jul 11th, 2006 7:31 AM
The U.S. military has identified the four soldiers charged with raping an Iraqi teenager and murdering her and three family members. We go to Baghdad to speak with an Iraqi journalist with the Los Angeles Times who interviewed the cousin of the family, Abu Firas Janabi - he says he was the first person to enter the house after the attack.
The U.S. military has identified the four soldiers charged with raping an Iraqi teenager and murdering her and three family members. A military official named them on Monday as Sergeant Paul Cortez, Specialist James Barker and Privates First Class Jesse Spielman and Bryan Howard. A fifth soldier, Sergeant Anthony Yribe was also charged with dereliction of duty for failing to report the crime.

Prosecutors say the troops conspired with Steven Green, who was arrested last week and charged as a civilian with rape and murder. Green was honorably discharged from the Army after being diagnosed with a "personality disorder."

The Iraqi government has called for an independent inquiry and Iraq's human rights minister said Monday he will ask the United Nations to stop granting U.S. troops immunity from local prosecution.

The details of the case that have emerged so far paint a harrowing picture of premeditated brutality by US soldiers in Iraq.

According to an affidavit based on sworn statements from several members of Green's infantry unit, the soldiers planned the attack after noticing the girl, Abeer Qasim Hamza, at a US checkpoint in the town of Mahmudiyah. On March 12th, the soldiers broke into her family's home. Some of them had been drinking and all but one had disguised themselves in dark clothing.

Green herded Abeer's mother, Fakhriya Taha Muhsen; her father, Kasim Hamza Rasheed; and her five-year old sister Hadel into a room and shot them with an AK-47 rifle. Green and another soldier then raped Abeer, shot her, and set her body on fire in an apparent effort to cover up the crime. Abeer had reportedly expressed concerns to her mother because the soldiers had made advances towards her. A newly-released copy of her identity card shows that she was fourteen years old. For more than a week since the killings came to light US officials have claimed she was twenty.

The military initially believed insurgents carried out the attack until at least two soldiers discussed it during counseling sessions following the abduction and slaying of two members of their platoon.

* Raheem Salman, an Iraqi journalist with the Los Angeles Times. He interviewed the cousin of the family who said he was the first person to enter the house after the attack. Read Salman's article " Iraqi Recounts 'Gruesome Sight' of Slain Relatives" http://www.latimes.com/news/nationworld/world/la-fg-rape6jul06,0,3149499.story?coll=la-home-headlines

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