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Court-martial begins for last US soldier accused in Mahmudiya rape-murder case

[JURIST] The court-martial of the last US Army serviceman charged in the March 2006 rape and murder of a 14-year old Iraqi girl [JURIST news archive] and the murder of her family in Mahmudiya (also "Mahmoudiya") began Monday. Pfc. Jesse Spielman, who prosecutors say acted as a lookout during the attack, entered guilty pleas to the lessor charges of conspiracy to obstruct justice, arson, wrongfully touching a corpse, and consuming alcohol. He still faces rape and murder charges. Spielman's defense lawyer Craig Carlson says Spielman's plea involved crimes he already confessed to military investigators and did not involve a deal with military prosecutors.

Three of the four soldiers [JURIST report] directly involved in the attack have pleaded guilty. Spc. James P. Barker and Sgt. Paul E. Cortez [JURIST reports] received prison sentences of 90 and 100 years respectively after pleading guilty to rape and murder. Pfc Bryan L 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 to conspiracy to commit rape and premeditated murder and conspiracy to obstruct justice. The alleged ringleader in the attack, former Pfc. Steven D. Green [JURIST news archive], is currently facing federal charges [docket; JURIST report] because he was discharged from military service before the charges arose. Green, who has entered a not guilty plea [JURIST report], is accused of raping the girl and shooting the entire family. He faces the death penalty if convicted. AFP has more. AP has additional coverage.

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