Ex-Soldier Charged in Killing of Iraqi Family
Tuesday, July 4, 2006
A former U.S. Army soldier was charged yesterday with the rape and murder of a young Iraqi woman and the slayings of three of her family members in their home south of Baghdad in March, federal prosecutors said.
Several soldiers allegedly planned the attack over drinks after noticing the woman near the traffic checkpoint they manned in Mahmudiyah, according to a criminal complaint filed in U.S. District Court for the Western District of Kentucky. The soldiers allegedly worked out an elaborate plan to carry out the crime and then cover it up, wearing dark clothes to the home, using an AK-47 assault rifle from the house to kill the family, and allowing authorities to believe that the attack was carried out by insurgents, investigators said.
Former Pfc. Steven D. Green, 21, and other members of 1st Platoon, B Company, 1st Battalion, 502nd Infantry Regiment, allegedly carried out the crimes on March 12. Several soldiers told authorities that Green killed all four people and that he and another soldier raped the young woman.
The plan worked, at least until soldiers began discussing the incident last month while they were going through stress counseling after two other members of their platoon were captured at a checkpoint and beheaded by insurgents. Army officials began investigating the day after hearing about the events in Mahmudiyah.
Green, who was honorably discharged from the Army for an unspecified "personality disorder" before U.S. officials were aware of the alleged crimes, was arrested Friday at his grandmother's house in Marion, N.C., on a federal warrant. Four other soldiers who have been implicated in the attack but were not named in the federal court documents remain in Iraq. None has been charged.
Cecilia Oseguera, a federal public defender who represented Green at an initial hearing yesterday in Charlotte, said that Green has not yet entered a plea and that he is incarcerated awaiting a preliminary hearing on July 10. She declined to comment further.
The case is the fifth in recent weeks in which U.S. troops have been accused of killing civilians in Iraq, a spate of incidents that has drawn attention to the way U.S. forces operate in what is often a complex and confusing battlefield. The rape and murder allegations against Green, however, detail a crime that appears to have had little if anything to do with the prosecution of the war itself.
Federal prosecutors are pursuing four charges of murder and one charge of rape against Green, said Marisa Ford, chief of the criminal division for the U.S. attorney's office in the Western District of Kentucky. In a rare move, the Justice Department is pursuing the charges because Green is no longer in military service.
The case was filed in Kentucky because it is the home district for the 101st Airborne Division, of which the 502nd Infantry Regiment is a part. If convicted, Green could face the death penalty.
According to an affidavit by FBI Special Agent Gregor J. Ahlers, the crimes appeared carefully crafted. Soldiers told Army investigators that Green and another soldier discussed raping the woman and had previously been to her residence, about 200 yards from their traffic checkpoint. Before leaving for the house, they also said, Green and two others drank alcohol and changed into dark clothes.
One soldier was left at the checkpoint to man the radio, while four others headed to the home, armed with three M4 rifles and a shotgun, according to the document. With one soldier guarding the door, the three others entered. Green covered his face with a brown T-shirt, grabbed an AK-47 rifle from the house and herded an adult couple and a young girl -- who authorities estimated was 5 years old -- into a bedroom. Green then shot them, according to authorities.
"Green came to the bedroom door and told everyone, 'I just killed them, all are dead,' " Ahlers wrote. Green and another soldier then allegedly raped the other daughter before Green shot her two or three times in the head with the AK-47. Military officials estimated her age at 20, although neighbors and hospital officials in Iraq said she was 15. She apparently was set on fire in an attempt to hide the crime.