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US soldier pleads guilty in Mahmudiya rape-murder case

[JURIST] US Army Spc. James P. Barker pleaded guilty Wednesday to charges stemming from the rape and murder of a 14-year-old Iraqi girl [JURIST news archive] and the murder of her family in the Mahmudiya (also "Mahmoudiya") area in March. Barker, who will be spared from capital punishment as a result of the plea, agreed to testify against the other soldiers implicated in the incident. According to Barker, Sgt. Paul E. Cortez and Pfc. Jesse V. Spielman, who still face the death penalty in their courts-martial [JURIST report], participated in the planning of the incident and the rape of the girl. Also, Barker's account of the incident identifies former US soldier Steven Green [JURIST report] as the murderer of the girl and her family. Green, who was discharged for a personality disorder and consequently faces non-military criminal prosecution, pleaded not guilty [JURIST report] earlier this month to charges of murder and sexual assault. If convicted, Green could be sentenced to a minimum of life imprisonment or even a death sentence for his involvement.

The Mahmudiya case has outraged Iraqi leaders [JURIST report], prompting Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki [official website] to launch an independent investigation [JURIST report] by Iraqis into the crimes allegedly committed by US troops. AP has more.

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