Army Details Rape-Slaying of Iraqi Girl
Monday, August 7, 2006; 6:14 PM
BAGHDAD, Iraq -- American soldiers took turns raping a 14-year-old Iraqi girl, and one of them put a bullet through her head after killing her parents and 5-year-old sister, an Army investigator testified Monday.
The attack followed a session of whiskey drinking and card-playing during which five soldiers plotted the March 12 assault, criminal investigator Benjamin Bierce said.
He cited details from a sworn statement by Spc. James P. Barker in which the soldier told how he and his comrades practiced hitting golf balls before heading to the Iraqi teen's home 250 yards from their post at a traffic checkpoint.
After the slayings, the soldiers returned to their post, where Barker grilled chicken wings, Bierce testified.
The testimony came on the second day of a hearing to determine whether the soldiers should stand trial in the rape-slaying of Abeer Qassim al-Janabi and the killing of her father, Qassim Hamza, her mother, Fikhriya Taha, and her sister, Hadeel Qassim Hamza, in the town of Mahmoudiya.
The rape and killings are among the worst in a series of cases of alleged misconduct by U.S. service members that have tarnished the American military.
Barker is accused along with Sgt. Paul E. Cortez, Pfc. Jesse V. Spielman and Pfc. Bryan L. Howard of rape and murder. Another soldier, Sgt. Anthony W. Yribe, is accused of failing to report the attack but is not alleged to have been a direct participant.
Former Pfc. Steven D. Green was discharged from the Army for a "personality disorder" after the slayings and was arrested in North Carolina in June on rape and murder charges. He has pleaded not guilty in federal court and is being held without bond.
In his June 30 statement, Barker described playing cards and drinking Iraqi whiskey mixed with an energy drink as the defendants plotted the attack.
Bierce said Barker's statement made it clear that Green was persistent about wanting to kill some Iraqis and kept bringing up the idea. At some point, they decided to go to the house of Abeer, whom they had seen passing their checkpoint.
Barker said the soldiers found the girl and her father outside their home. Spielman grabbed the girl while Green seized her father and took them into the house, Barker's statement said, and Cortez and Barker followed them inside.
Green led the father, mother and younger sister into the bedroom and closed the door, while the teenage girl remained in the living room with the others, Barker's statement said.