Federal court begins trial of ex-soldier accused in Mahmudiya murder-rape case

[JURIST] The federal trial of a former US soldier accused of raping and killing a 14-year-old Iraqi girl [JURIST news archive] in 2006 began Monday. Former US Army Pfc. Steven Green [JURIST news archive] is also charged with killing the girl's family in Mahmudiya, Iraq. During Monday's opening statements, prosecutors said [AP report] that Green raped the girl, shot her several times, and then burned her body and that he later bragged about the events. Green's defense lawyer argued [Reuters report] that Green was under extreme stress from combat conditions. Green could face the death penalty if convicted.

Green is being tried as a civilian because he was honorably discharged pursuant to a psychiatric disorder diagnosis [JURIST report] made before the Army learned of the Mahmudiya incident. Green's lawyers had previously indicated that they were considering raising an insanity defense [JURIST report]. Four soldiers [JURIST report] from the 101st Airborne Division have already been convicted in military court for crimes stemming from the Mahmudiya incident. Spc. James Barker and Sgt. Paul Cortez [JURIST reports] received prison sentences of 90 and 100 years respectively after they pleaded guilty to participating in the attack. Pfc. Bryan Howard, who stayed at the soldiers' checkpoint but had prior knowledge of the plan, was sentenced to 27 months after pleading guilty [JURIST report] in March 2007 to conspiracy to commit rape and premeditated murder and conspiracy to obstruct justice. Pfc. Jesse Spielman was sentenced to 110 years in prison after being convicted [JURIST report] in August 2007 of four counts of felony murder, rape, conspiracy to commit rape, and housebreaking with intent to commit rape. All four will be eligible for parole in 10 years.

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