[JURIST] Former US soldier Steven Green [JURIST news archive] on Monday challenged the law used to convict him in civilian court for his role in the rape and murder of a 14-year-old Iraqi girl [JURIST news archive] and the murder of her family in Mahmudiya. Green filed an appeal [brief, PDF] in the US Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit [official website] seeking to overturn the Military Extraterritorial Jurisdiction Act (MEJA) [text], which gives the US federal courts jurisdiction over cases involving crimes committed overseas by people serving in the US armed forces. He is arguing that he should not have been tried in civilian court but rather a military trial. Green is also challenging the validity of his discharge from the military, which enabled him to be tried in civilian court under MEJA.
Green was sentenced to five consecutive life terms in September after a jury failed to reach a unanimous decision [JURIST reports] on whether Green should face the death penalty. At the beginning of the trial, a federal judge rejected [JURIST report] Green's constitutional challenges to civilian charges. His lawyers argued that Green should have been tried in the military justice system rather than charged under MEJA. Green was honorably discharged [JURIST report] from the military for a psychiatric disorder prior to the Army learning of the Mahmudiya incident. He was one of six soldiers [JURIST report] charged with involvement in the rape and murders. Three other soldiers pleaded guilty in court-martial proceedings and a fourth was convicted. Prosecutors dropped charges of dereliction of duty against the sixth member who was other than honorably discharged.