Major General Curtis Scaparrotti of the US Army [official website] on Monday ordered a court-martial for Staff Sergeant David Bram stemming from a larger case involving five soldiers accused of killing Afghan citizens. Bram is charged [CNN report] with conspiracy to commit assault and battery, unlawfully striking another solider, violating a lawful order, dereliction of duty, cruelty, maltreatment and endeavoring to impede an investigation. He is not among the five men accused of murder and conspiracy to commit murder. If convicted of all the charges, he could face nine-and-a-half years in prison. Bram is accused of severely beating an Army private [Reuters report] in his unit to keep the solider from informing superiors about alleged drug abuse within the unit.
This the second court-martial resulting from an investigation into 12 infantry men accused of terrorizing civilians and fellow soldiers and illegal drug use in Afghanistan. In June, the US Army charged Specialist Jeremy Morlock [JURIST report] with three counts of premeditated murder and one count of assault in the death of three Afghan civilians. The Army announced in May [JURIST report] that its Criminal Investigation Command was opening an investigation into the civilian deaths in Kandahar. The charges are the latest in a number of incidents involving US soldiers in both Iraq and Afghanistan. In April, a military appeals court reversed the conviction [JURIST report] of US Marine Sgt. Lawrence Hutchins III for the 2006 killing of an Iraqi civilian, citing lack of a fair trial. Hutchins was serving an 11-year sentence, reduced from 15 years [JURIST report], for his role in the April 2006 kidnapping and murder of an Iraqi civilian. In December, former soldier Steven Green appealed his conviction [JURIST report] for his role in the rape and murder of a 14-year old Iraqi girl. Green was sentenced to five consecutive life terms [JURIST report] in September.