AN ex-soldier charged with raping and killing a 14-year-old Iraqi girl and slaying her family set the girl’s body ablaze after shooting her several times, prosecutors said during opening statements at his federal trial.
Steven Dale Green, 23, of Midland, Texas, faces more than a dozen charges, including sexual assault and four counts of murder, stemming from the 2006 attack in Iraq’s so-called “Triangle of Death”.
After he shot the girl in the face several times, Green used kerosene to set fire to her body, assistant US attorney Brian Skaret said.
“They left behind the carnage of all carnage,” Skaret said of Green and other soldiers accused in the March 12, 2006, attack.
The defence, in its opening statement, asked jurors to consider the extraordinary circumstances that confronted soldiers while serving in Iraq. Green, who has pleaded not guilty, is being tried in a civilian court because he was discharged from the army before being charged.
Jurors heard two relatives testify about the carnage inside the victims’ home.
They also were shown photographs of the teen’s burned body.
Skaret said Green talked frequently of wanting to kill Iraqis, but when pressed, would tell people he wasn’t serious.
He told jurors that a group of soldiers, including Green, was playing cards and drinking whiskey at a checkpoint near Mahmoudiyah, about 32km south of Baghdad.
Talk turned to having sex with Iraqi women, when one soldier mentioned the al-Janabi family, who lived nearby, Skaret said. Soldiers then went to the home where, according to prosecutors, Green pulled the father, mother, and daughters, aged six and 14 into another room, then pushed the 14-year-old out.
Skaret said Green used a shotgun to kill the three in the room and told the soldiers that the family was dead.
He then raped the girl and shot her, according to Skaret.
As the girl lay helpless, “Steven Green went over to the wall and picked up a gun and he shot her in the face again and again,” Skaret said.
Later, Green talked about the killings to superior officers, other soldiers and even civilian friends, Skaret said.
In Green’s defence, attorney Patrick Bouldin painted a picture of young soldiers in harsh wartime conditions, lacking leadership and receiving little help from the army to deal with the loss of friends.
He said Green lost five colleagues in combat prior to the attack.
A federal public defender, Bouldin showed jurors a videotape of Green speaking at a memorial service for two slain sergeants.
Green’s trial is being held in Paducah because of the western Kentucky city’s proximity to Fort Campbell on the Kentucky-Tennessee border where Green was based as a private with the 101st Airborne Division.
Other soldiers were prosecuted in military court, including two who pleaded guilty and acknowledged taking part in the rape. Prosecutors said a third who was convicted had gone to the family’s home knowing what was planned. A fourth who stayed at the checkpoint pleaded guilty to being an accessory, they said.
Green’s discharge papers showed he received an honourable discharge in May 2006 after being diagnosed with a personality disorder. Bouldin didn’t address why Green was discharged.
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