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 Jeremy Morlock faces court martial over Afghan deaths

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Bài gửiTiêu đề: Jeremy Morlock faces court martial over Afghan deaths   Thu Mar 24, 2011 12:21 am

Spc Jeremy Morlock Spc Morlock is the first of five soldiers accused in the killings to be tried
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A US soldier accused of being a part of a rogue squad that killed unarmed Afghan men for sport faces a court martial on Wednesday.

Specialist Jeremy Morlock is charged with three counts of murder and other crimes including drug use and assault.

He is the first of five soldiers based in the US state of Washington to be tried for the killings.

Under a deal for a guilty plea he would get 24 years in prison but be eligible for parole in eight, his lawyer said.

The proceedings come two days after German magazine Der Spiegel published photographs showing US soldiers grinning over the corpses of Afghan civilians they had allegedly killed.

The magazine identified Spc Morlock as one of the soldiers posing.
Expected to testify

Spc Morlock, 22, is part of the 5th Stryker Brigade based at Joint Base Lewis-McChord in the US state of Washington, which deployed to Afghanistan last year and saw heavy fighting around Kandahar.

The murders are alleged to have taken place between January and May this year when Spc Morlock's unit was deployed in Kandahar province, in southern Afghanistan.

Prosecutors say he and four others killed three civilian men in Afghanistan last year in Kandahar province, and say they were acting under the direction of the unit's leader, Staff Sgt Calvin Gibbs.

Spc Morlock is expected to testify against the others as part of his plea deal, the Associated Press reported.

In a copy of the plea agreement, Spc Morlock admits he and others killed the three men with grenades and firearms knowing they were unarmed and posed no threat to the soldiers.

"He's really a good kid. This is just a bad war at a bad time in our country's history," his lawyer Geoffrey Nathan told the Associated Press. "There was a lack of supervision, a lack of command control, the environment was terrible. In his mind, he had no choice."

In addition to Staff Sgt Gibbs, charged in the murders are Pte First Class Andrew Holmes, and Spc Michael Wagnon and Spc Adam Winfield.

In addition, other soldiers are accused of dismembering the victims and collecting body parts.

The photos published by Der Spiegel were said to be among many seized by US Army investigators.

On Tuesday, US Gen David Petraeus, the commander of Nato forces in Afghanistan, condemned the soldiers' conduct.

"Those are very reprehensible," he said. "These are unacceptable actions that are depicted in those photos."
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