Middle East

US soldier admitted Iraqi rape

A US military hearing has heard testimony of how three soldiers in Iraq drank alcohol and hit golf balls before two of them took it in turns raping a 14 year old girl and killed her and her family.

The rape and massacre happened in Mahmudiya in March.

It’s alleged the girl, her parents and five year old sister were killed by four US soldiers.

The graphic account o the alleged assault came from criminal investigator Benjamin Bierce who said he interviewed one of the accused, Spc. James P Barker, on June 30.

Bierce was testifying on the second day of a hearing to decide whether a group of five US soldiers must stand trial.

James Barker is accused along with SGt. Paul E. Cortez, Pfc. Jesse V Spielman, Prc. Bryan L. Howard of rape and murder.

A fifth soldier, Sgt. Anthony W. Yribbe, is accused of failing to report the attack and is alleged to have lied to cover up for his colleagues.

The case is one of a series of atrocities blamed on US forces in Iraq.

Barker’s sworn and signed statement was submitted to the hearing and Bierce revealed some details during his testimony.

According to Barker’s statement, 12 soldiers had been drinking Iraqi whisky mixed with an energy drink and practising golf swings at a checkpoint south of Baghdad, on the day of the attack.

One of the men, Specialist Steven Green, said that he "wanted to go to a house and kill some Iraqis", the statement alleged.

Four of the accused -- Barker, Sergeant Paul Cortez, Private Bryan Howard, Private Jesse Spielman -- agreed with Green's plan.

They allegedly changed into black silk underwear and masks and set off for the family's nearby home, the statement said.

They then went to the house about 200 metres away and put the parents and the girl’s young sister in the bedroom.

It’s alleged Green and Mr Cortez then took it in turns to rape or attempt to rape the girl in the living room.

Barker said he heard shots from the bedroom, and Steven Green emerged with an AK-47 in his hand saying, “They’re all dead. I just killed them.”

He then raped the girl and shot her dead before her body was doused in kerosene and set alight.

After the murders, the troops allegedly returned to their checkpoint 200 metres away and "grilled chicken wings", the statement said.

Green has been discharged from the army because of a "personality disorder."

He has been charged separately with rape and murder in a civilian court.

The 21 year old has pleaded not guilty to the charges and his trial is pending.

The other accused could face penalties up to and including death penalty should they face court martial.

The hearings continue.

Baghdad bombings

Meanwhile a series of bomb explosions in Baghdad killed at least 20 people and injured 58 today, while armed robbers shot dead three people during a raid on a bank, police said.

Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki later criticised his own government's security forces and their US advisers for carrying out a nightime raid on the Baghdad Shiite district of Sadr City.

Two roadside bombs exploded in the main Shurja market in central Baghdad within minutes of each other, killing 10 civilians and injuring 50, said a police spokesman.

Three more bombs exploded earlier today near the Interior Ministry building in central Baghdad today, killing 10 people and injuring eight people.

Both the Shurja market and the Interior Ministry in Al-Nahda building are in central Baghdad, which has been the focus of growing sectarian violence between Shi'ites and Sunnis that many fear could force the country into civil war.

Also today, gunmen in two cars stormed a bank in Azamiyah district of Baghdad and killed three people - two guards and one civilian – before driving away with an unknown amount of money.

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