Sat, Feb 24, 2007 - Page 4 News List

US soldier gets century for rape-killing

AFP , FORT CAMPBELL, KENTUCKY

A US soldier was sentenced on Thursday to 100 years in prison for his role in the rape and murder of a 14-year-old Iraqi girl and the slaying of her family.

Sergeant Paul Cortez, 24, admitted he was among five soldiers who plotted the last March's rape and murders in Mahmudiyah, south of Baghdad, while they were drinking gin and whiskey and playing cards at a traffic checkpoint.

Cortez was in tears as members of his 101st Airborne unit testified on his behalf ahead of sentencing on Thursday.

"I'm sorry I let you guys down, you guys treat me better than this," he said.

He also apologized to his two brothers and parents in the courtroom audience: "I love you guys, I'm sorry for what I did."

Cortez was convicted of conspiracy to rape, rape, four counts of murder, and other charges including violating a general order by drinking.

Cortez was the second soldier to plead guilty in the high-profile case.

Defense lawyer William Cassara told the court the sentence was "an appropriate sanction for what he did."

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