May 7th, former US soldier Steven D. Green was found guilty on all counts for his role in the Iraq War Crimes from March 12, 2006, when Abeer Qassim Hamza al-Janabi was gang-raped and murdered, her five-year-old sister was murdered and both of her parents were murdered. May 21st, the federal jury deadlocked on the death penalty and instead kicking in sentence to life in prison. September 4th, Green is scheduled to stand before US District Judge Thomas B. Russell for sentencing. Yesterday, Green appeared in court as the family of Abeer gave their statements before leaving to return to Iraq. WHAS11 (text and video) reported on yesterday's court proceedings:
Gary Roedemeier: Crimes were horrific. A band of soldiers convicted of planning an attack against an Iraqi girl and her family.
Melissa Swan: The only soldier tried in civilian court is Steven Green. The Fort Campbell soldier was in federal court in Loussivell this morning, facing the victims' family and WHAS's Renee Murphy was in that courtroom this morning. She joins us live with the information and also more on that heart wrenching scene of when these family members faced the man who killed their family.
Renee Murphy: I mean, they came face to face with the killer. Once again, the only thing different about this time was that they were able to speak with him and they had an exchange of dialogue and the family is here from Iraq and they got to ask Steven Green all the questions they wanted answered. They looked each other in the eye. Green appeared calm and casual in court. The victims' family, though, outraged, emotional and distraught. Now cameras were not allowed in the courtroom so we can't show video of today's hearing but here's an account of what happened. (Video begins] This is a cousin of a 14-year-old Iraqi girl raped and killed by Steven Green. He and other family members in this SUV were able to confront Green in federal court this morning. Their words were stinging and came from sheer grief. Former Fort Campbell soldier Steven Green was convicted of killing an Iraqi mother, father and their young daughter. He then raped their 14-year-old daughter, shot her in the head and set her body on fire. Today the victim's family was able to give an impact statement at the federal court house the young sons of the victims asked Green why he killed their father. an aunt told the court that "wounds are still eating at our heart" and probably the most compelling statements were from the girls' grandmother who sobbed from the stand and demanded an explanation from Green. Green apologized to the family saying that he did evil things but he is not an evil person. He says that he was drunk the night of the crimes in 2006 and he was following the orders of his commanding officers. In his statement, Green said if it would bring these people back to life I would do everything I could to make them execute me. His statement goes on to say, "Before I went to Iraq, I never thought I would intentionally kill a civilian. When I was in Iraq, something happened to me that I can only explain by saying I lost my mind. I stopped seeing Iraqis as good and bad, as men, women and children. I started seeing them all as one, and evil, and less than human." Green didn't act alone. His codefendants were court-martialed and received lesser sentences. Green will be formally sentenced to life in prison in September. [End of videotape.] The answers that Green gave were not good enough for some of the family members. at one point today, the grandmother of the young girls who were killed left the podium and started walking towards Green as he sat at the defendant's table shouting "Why!" She was forcibly then escorted to the back of the court room by US Marshalls. She then fell to the ground and buried her face in her hands and began to cry again. The family pleaded with the court for the death sentence for Green. but you can see Green's entire statement to the court on our website whas11.com and coming up tonight at six o'clock, we're going to hear from Green's attorneys.
Like WKLY's reports by Hailee Lampert (here and here -- both are text and video), Murphy makes no mention of the grandmother lunging. Nor do any of the reports filed by the AP on yesterday's court room proceedings. Andrew Wolfson is still maintaining that the grandmother "lunged" at Green in his latest piece at the Courier-Journal. Now let's review one more time. A photo of Abeer's sister is shown to the court. After the jury fails to sentence Green to death (meaning he instead gets life in prison), that photo pops up in the Courier-Journal (last Friday) in Wolfson's story and is identified as a photo of Abeer (bottom right hand corner, note there is still no correction). The AP then grabs the photo, stamps "copyright AP" on it and distributes it around the world as a photo of Abeer. It was not a photo of Abeer. I have two people now telling me that Andrew Wolfson was informed of that, including when he requested a copy of the photo. This follows Wolfson's creative reporting (after not being present in the court room) during the trial where he maintained the defense was arguing that the jury hadn't been to Iraq so they couldn't judge Green. As noted here in real time, that would have been something because the judge had issued an order before even opening statements were made stating that would not take place. Marisa Ford had introduced the motion and the judge was responding (in agreement) to her motion. So Andrew Wolfson who has had serious problems with his reporting is now the only reporter claiming that the grandmother "lunged" at Green. And the Courier-Journal doesn't find that questionable?
Meanwhile, in the latest attacks on Sahwa, AP is reporting Khazal al-Sammaraie is dead from a motorcycle bombing today outside of Baquba.
This is Green's prepared statement as e-mailed to the public account (he made changes as he read from it):
What I am about to say is completely my own. No one told me what to say. No one wrote this for me. Not my lawyers, not the government, not anybody.
My feelings of remorse are directed solely towards the victims, and towards the family of the victims, who I do not deny are victims themselves.
I am truly sorry for what I did in Iraq and I am sorry for the pain my actions, and the actions of my co-defendants, have caused you and your family. I imagine it is a pain that I cannot fully comprehend or appreciate. I helped to destroy a family and end the lives of four of my fellow human beings, and I wish that I could take it back, but I cannot. And, as inadequate as this apology is, it is all I can give you.
I know you wish I was dead, and I do not hold that against you. If I was in your place, I am convinced beyond any doubt that I would feel the same way. And, if I thought it would change anything, or if it would bring these people back to life, I would do everything I could to make them execute me. I also know that you think I am evil, and I understand that as well, and even though I do not think that you want to hear this, I have to tell you that despite the evil that I have done, I am not an evil person.
Before I was in the Army, I never thought I would kill anyone, and even after I was in the Army, but before I went to Iraq, I never thought I would intentionally kill a civilian. When I was in Iraq, something happened to me that I can only explain by saying that I lost my mind. At some point while I was in Iraq, I stopped seeing Iraqis as good and bad, as men, women, and children. I started seeing them all as one, and evil, and less than human. When that happened, any natural, learned, or religious morality, that normally would have stopped this, was gone.
But I see now that I was wrong, and that Iraqis are human beings, and that despite differences of race, religion, culture, and language, they are still human. And that at their core, they have the same feelings, emotions, and needs as Americans. It was wrong to kill Iraqis, just like it was wrong to kill Americans, just like it is wrong to kill anyone, and I am very sorry.
Most of all I am sorry for the deceased, but aside from them, I am the most sorry for the boys whose family are gone. I know what we did left a hole in their lives, and scars on their minds, and that there is no making up for that. I only hope for them that they can somehow, and I don't know how, move forward, and have a good future despite the nightmare in their past that I helped create. They have my apologies and my prayers, as meaningless as they must seem.
The Government is not going to execute me, as I am sure you wish they would, but there is really no chance that I will step foot outside of prison for as long as I live. I know that if I live one more year or fifty more years that they will be years that Fahkriya, Kassem, Abeer, and Hadeel won't have not matter where I am. And even though I did not learn their names until long after their deaths, they are never far from my mind. But in the end, whether in one year or fifty, I will die, and when I die I will be in God's hands. In the Kingdom of God where there will be justice, and whatever I deserve, I will get. On the day of judgment, God will repay everyone according to his works, and affliction and distress will come upon every human being who does evil. I know that I have done evil, and I fear that the wrath of the Lord will come upon me on that day. But, I hope that you and your family at least can find some comfort in God's justice.
I see now that war is intrinsically evil, because killing is intrinsically evil. And, I am sorry I ever had anything to do with either.
And, I cannot say this enough times, whether or not you can ever forgive me, and I don't see how you could, I am and will always be sorry for what I did.
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