One of the four U.S. soldiers accused of raping a 14-year-old Iraqi girl before killing her and her family pleaded guilty on Wednesday at the start of his court-martial.
Spc. James Barker admits rape and murder. A plea-bargain has spared him from the death penalty but four other soldiers: Pfc. Jesse Spielman, Sgt. Paul Cortez, and Pfc. Bryan Howard as well as former soldier Steven Green still face charges for what has become known as The Mahmudiya case .
Barker is alleged to have said in a sworn statement that on the day of the attack he, Cortez, Spielman and Green had been playing cards and drinking whiskey mixed with an energy drink, they put the couple and their 6-year-old daughter into a bedroom, but kept the teenage girl in the living room, where Barker held her hands while Cortez raped or tried to rape her. Barker then switched positions with Cortez and attempted to rape the girl, Green is also alleged to have raped the girl while Cortez held her down.
Both Cortez and Barker face the death sentence if convicted.
Meanwhile, in Sarajevo, the Bosnian war crimes court on Tuesday sentenced Radovan Stankovic to 16 years in prison for the serial rape, enslavement and torture of Muslim and Croat civilians in a detention camp near Foca during the 1992-95 Bosnia war.
He set up a detention center in the Karaman House, where nine women were kept, most of them minors,” said the presiding judge, Davorin Jukic. “Two girls were 12 years old. One of them is still missing.”
Stankovic repeatedly raped, tortured and beat the two girls over a period of months. He offered other girls to Bosnian Serb soldiers, who raped and humiliated them.
We had hoped for a life sentence, he destroyed so many lives, but it seems it’s better to be a criminal than a victim said Bakira Hasecic, the president of the association of Women Victims of War, and herself a victim of wartime rape.
Rape seems increasingly to have become a weapon during recent wars, although it should not be forgotten that several US soldiers faced the death penalty for rapes of British women during WW2.
I would be interested in hearing if anybody thinks the likely sentences for these two crimes are too strict or alternatively, not strict enough to reflect the damage done.
Finally, slightly brighter news from Pakistan: