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Federal court upholds charges against ex-US soldier in Mahmudiya killings case

[JURIST] A federal judge has rejected constitutional challenges to civilian charges against former US Army Pvt. Steven D. Green in connection with the rape and killing of a 14-year-old girl [JURIST news archives] and the killing of her family in Mahmudiya, Iraq (also "Mahmoudiya"). US District Judge Thomas Russell [official profile] of the Western District of Kentucky [official website] ruled Tuesday that charging Green with voluntary manslaughter as a civilian following his discharge from the Army did not violate his due process rights. Defense lawyers had argued [JURIST report] that Green should have been tried in the military justice system rather than charged under the Military Extraterritorial Jurisdiction Act [text], which Congress amended in 2004 to permit the prosecution of US civilians who commit crimes in combat zones. Jury selection for Green's trial, scheduled for April 2009, began this month [JURIST reports]. The government is seeking the death penalty against Green, who intends to raise an insanity defense [JURIST reports]. AP has more.

Four other soldiers [JURIST report] from the Army's 101st Airborne Division have already been convicted in military court for crimes stemming from the rape and killings. Spc. James P. Barker and Sgt. Paul E. Cortez [JURIST reports] received prison sentences of 90 and 100 years respectively after they pleaded guilty to participating in the attack. 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. Pfc. Jesse Spielman was sentenced to 110 years in prison after being convicted [JURIST report] on four counts of felony murder, rape, conspiracy to commit rape, and housebreaking with intent to commit rape. All four will be eligible for parole in 10 years.

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