In one of the most serious accusations of war crimes to emerge from the Afghan conflict, twelve American soldiers face charges over forming a secret “kill team” to carry out random executions of Afghans, collected their fingers as trophies, and then organised a cover-up. The killings are alleged to have been carried out by members of a Stryker infantry brigade based in Kandahar province in southern Afghanistan.
Military officials said the next step for the accused soldiers will be what is known as an Article 32 hearing, similar to a grand jury, after which lawyers normally decide whether or not to seek the death penalty in the case.
Five of the soldiers are charged with premeditated murder of three Afghan civilians (violating UCMJ, art. 128) who were allegedly killed for sport in separate attacks this year. Three of the soldiers were charged with one count each of premeditated murder, while two others were charged earlier this month with three counts of premeditated murder and one count of assault. In two of the incidents, grenades were thrown at the victims and they were shot, according to charging documents. The third victim was shot.The soldiers are accused of killing the three Afghans while on patrol and threatening violence against anyone who dared to report the events, according to statements made to military investigators.
The victims were identified as Gul Mudin, who died in January, Marach Agha, killed on or about February 22 and Mullah Adahdad, killed on or around May 2.
Seven others are accused of covering up the killings and assaulting a recruit who exposed the murders when he reported other abuses, including members of the unit smoking hashish stolen from civilians. Charges against them include impeding an investigation, aggravated assault with a deadly weapon, unlawfully striking another soldier and conspiracy to commit assault and battery.
Army Staff Sgt. Calvin Gibbs and Spc. Jeremy Morlock are the central figures in the case. They are charged in all three killings. The other murder suspects are Pfc. Andrew Holmes of Boise, Idaho ; Spc. Michael Wagnon of Las Vegas; and Spc. Adam Winfield of Cape Coral, Fla.
Morlock, a 22-year-old from Wasilla, Alaska, has played a major role in helping the Army develop the case. He has given numerous details about his involvement in the killings and also implicated others. His attorney, Michael Waddington, said he will try to have those statements withdrawn because his client spoke while under the influence of prescription drugs taken for battlefield injuries.
The charges will be considered by a military grand jury later this month which will decide if there is enough evidence for a court martial.
Winfield Charge Sheet
Quintal Charge Sheet
Corey Moore Charge Sheet
Ashton Moore Charge Sheet
Wagnon Charge Sheet
Stevens Charge Sheet
Kelly Charge Sheet
Holmes Charge Sheet
Bram Charge Sheet
Morlock Charge Sheet
Filed under: Afghanistan |