Mon, Aug 06, 2007 - Page 7 News List

US soldier sentenced in rape case

AFP , WASHINGTON

A US soldier was sentenced on Saturday to 110 years in jail for raping and killing a 14-year-old Iraqi girl and slaying her family, the army said.

"Private First Class Jesse Spielman was sentenced to 110 years in prison with the possibility of parole for his involvement in last year's rape of a 14-year-old Iraqi girl and the murders of her and three family members," a statement by the army said.

A court-martial found Spielman guilty on Friday of rape, conspiracy to commit rape, housebreaking with the intent to commit rape and four counts of felony murder.

Spielman pleaded not guilty on Monday to raping and killing Abeer Kassem Hamza al-Janabi and murdering her family, but he pleaded guilty to lesser charges including arson and obstruction of justice.

The trial in Fort Campbell, Kentucky, found that Spielman was among a group of soldiers who raped and killed Janabi, murdered her parents and sister and torched their home in Mahmudiyah, south of Baghdad, in March last year.

Spielman received a dishonorable discharge and lost all pay and allowances.

The alleged ringleader of the rape, Steven Green, will be tried in civilian court because he was discharged from the army before the crime came to light.

Federal prosecutors have said they will be seeking the death penalty in his case.

Sergeant Paul Cortez and Specialist James Barker, both of whom admitted to raping the girl, received life sentences after pleading guilty earlier this year.

Private Bryan Howard, who served as a lookout, was sentenced to 27 months in jail for acting as an accessory and helping to obstruct justice.

Revelations last year that the soldiers calmly plotted to rape a young girl they had seen walking down the street and to cover up their crime by killing her family and setting their house on fire undermined the already battered reputation of the US military.

In his court-martial, Cortez described how a fellow soldier pinned the girl to the ground and held her down while he raped her. Cortez then held al-Janabi down as Barker raped her.

During the trial, Cortez said he heard about four or five gunshots from the bedroom where Green had taken the girl's parents, Kassem Hamza Rachid al-Janabi and Fakhriya Taha Mohsine al-Janabi, and six-year-old daughter Hadeel Kassem Hamza al-Janabi.

Green emerged from the room saying he had killed them all and Cortez watched as Green raped the girl and then shot her in the head.

Barker then covered her body with a blanket and tossed a lighter to one of the other soldiers who set the blanket alight. The house was soon engulfed in flames, Cortez testified.

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