[JURIST] A US Army Special Forces soldier faces court-martial proceedings [JURIST news archive] following his arraignment [press release] in connection with the killing of an Afghan man earlier this year. The Army announced Thursday that Master Sgt. Joseph D. Newell of the 3rd Special Forces Group (Airborne) [unit website] based at Fort Bragg, N.C., is charged under the Uniform Code of Military Justice with murder and related offenses [text]. He is accused of fatally shooting an unidentified Afghani near Hyderabad in March and then cutting an ear off the man's body. During an Article 32 preliminary hearing [JAG backgrounder] last month, a defense lawyer contended that the military had insufficient evidence against Newell. A court-martial is scheduled to convene on January 7. AP has more.
Last year, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) released documents [JURIST report] describing alleged crimes committed by US soldiers against civilians in Iraq and Afghanistan [JURIST news archive] but showing that troops believed they were following the law in most instances. The materials were made available in conjunction with a lawsuit the ACLU filed to compel the US military to release all documents relating to the deaths of civilians caused by US troops since January 2005. In 2006, court-martial proceedings against a group of US soldiers implicated in the abuse of detainees at Bagram Air Base in Afghanistan ended with only one conviction [JURIST report]. Three other soldiers pleaded guilty [JURIST report] to abusing prisoners at Bagram, two others pleaded guilty at the court-martial and five were acquitted. The Army dropped the charges against three others.