Ex-soldier charged in killings

Former private is accused in rape, 4 deaths in Iraqi town in March


WASHINGTON -- A recently discharged Army private appeared in federal court in Charlotte, N.C., yesterday, where he was charged with raping and killing an Iraqi woman after rounding up and killing three members of her family as part of a planned assault in the central Iraqi town of Mahmoudiya.

Steven D. Green, 21, was arrested Friday in Marion, N.C., after a four-day nationwide manhunt. Army investigators were told recently by soldiers still serving in Iraq that Green, accompanied by three other soldiers, had committed the rape and killings in March.

If found guilty on murder charges, Green could be sentenced to death.

According to the FBI, Green returned to the United States after receiving an honorable discharge from the Army before the Mahmoudiya allegations came to light.

An affidavit submitted by FBI Special Agent Gregor J. Ahlers in Kentucky said military personnel files show that a "personality disorder" led to the discharge, which apparently was approved at least two months ago.

Because Green's is the first case of alleged wrongdoing by American servicemen in Iraq to go through the civilian U.S. legal process, Ahlers' six-page affidavit - submitted Friday in support of a request for an arrest warrant - is one of the most detailed public accountings of abuse accusations.

More than 30 soldiers have been implicated in the wrongful deaths of Iraqi civilians. Those incidents include the deaths in 2005 of 24 men, women and children in the town of Haditha and the killing of three detainees in May north Baghdad.

Last week, the U.S. military said it had charged two soldiers with voluntary manslaughter in the shooting death of an unarmed Ramadi resident in February.

The killings have fanned unease between Iraqi officials and the U.S. military, and the incident in Mahmoudiya, south of Baghdad, is considered likely to aggravate tensions further because of its sexual nature.

Ahlers said his information came largely from Army investigators, who interviewed at least three of the five soldiers suspected of involvement in the Mahmoudiya incident. An Army official said none of the other four soldiers has been charged or detained but that they are under close supervision in Iraq.

All are members of the 502nd Infantry Regiment, which is attached to the 4th Infantry Division.

In Ahlers' affidavit, two of the soldiers described themselves as mainly standing watch outside the civilians' house while, they say, Green and another soldier - identified as "Known Participant 1" - raped the woman. The third soldier interviewed said he was told to stay behind and monitor the radio while the others went to the woman's house. All three have submitted sworn statements.

According to their accounts, while Green and the other soldier were drinking alcohol - which is prohibited for U.S. troops in Iraq - while staffing a checkpoint on the night of March 11, they started talking about having sex with the woman, whom they had seen during a visit to her house. The house was about 200 meters from the checkpoint, one soldier told investigators.

On March 11, according to their accounts, after the decision was made to rape the woman, three of the soldiers changed out of their uniforms and into dark clothes. One soldier told investigators that Green covered his face with a brown T-shirt. One of the soldiers told investigators that he changed clothes so he "wouldn't be seen."

The affidavit said that four of the soldiers then grabbed three rifles and a shotgun and headed to the house. The fifth soldier was said to have stayed behind at the checkpoint.

According to the accounts of the two who stood guard, Green went to a back bedroom, closed the door and shot three family members. An Army official said the three were thought to be the woman's mother, father and sister, approximately age 5.

About the same time, the soldier identified as the "known participant" grabbed the young woman - whose age is believed to have been about 20 - and threw her to the floor, according to the affidavit. The two soldiers acting as guards told investigators that Green and the other soldier raped the woman before Green picked up an AK-47 assault rifle he had found at the house and killed her.

"After the rape, [one guard] witnessed Green shoot the woman in the head two to three times," the affidavit said.

Green was charged with four counts of unlawful killing and one count of a forced sexual act. Cecilia Oseguera, the public defender who represented Green, declined to comment.

Peter Spiegel writes for the Los Angeles Times.

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