Saturday, May 23, 2009

Steven Green Sentenced to Life for Rape Murder in Iraq

On Talk Left, Jeralyn posted about this case several times, including one in which she emphatically makes the point that if the accomplices have been guaranteed 7-year sentences, the government shouldn't very well ask for the death penalty for Steven Green.

Well, wouldn't that same logic apply to the life sentence without parole he has received?

The NYT describes the incident like this:

On March 11, 2006, after drinking Iraqi whiskey, Private Green and other soldiers manning a checkpoint decided to rape an Iraqi girl who lived nearby, according to testimony. Wearing civilian clothing, the soldiers broke into a house and raped Abeer Qassim Hamza al-Janabi. Soldiers in the group testified that Private Green killed the girl’s parents and a younger sister before raping and then shooting the girl in the head with the family’s own AK-47, which it had kept for self defense.

Much has been written lately about how atrocious this crime was, but, I don't know if I'm getting jaded or what, given the backdrop of combat and the fact that the army which has such problems with homosexuals but will readily enlist possible psychotics into its ranks, as Zirgar said today, I say, what do you expect. In fact part of the defense in Green's trial was that the army was partly responsible.

In the sentencing phase of the trial, the Army stress counselor, Lt. Col. Karen Marrs, a mental health nurse practitioner, testified that Private Green was disturbed by deaths in his unit and had expressed a desire to hurt Iraqi civilians. But Colonel Marrs also said such sentiments had been expressed by other members of the unit and were not uncommon among troops in combat. On questioning from the prosecution, she also said that she thought Private Green clearly understood that hurting civilians would be wrong and that he had no plans to act on his anger.
The defense argued that the Army should have provided stronger leadership to Private Green’s unit and should have removed Private Green from front-line duty for more intensive mental health care.

Obviously that defense didn't fly. Or perhaps it contributed to the hung jury in the penalty phase. But the defense of shared responsibility certainly didn't do much to ameliorate the sentence: it was down to death or life without parole.

What's your opinion? Is it acceptable to excuse combat troops to some degree for their misdeeds? Does what he supposedly said about wanting to hurt civilians sound normal to you, as Colonel Marrs said? I can see the troops wanting to hurt the enemy, I can even see their having some difficulty distinguishing between enemy soldiers and enemy civilians, but to say you want to hurt civilians to me sounds like a major red light should have gone off for someone in a supervisory role.

What do you think?

1 comment:

  1. From everything I've read, they those soldiers didn't kill the girl with an AK. They killed her by lighting her on fire.