Friday, May 08, 2009

Steven D. Green convicted of War Crimes

Yesterday the jury issued a verdict in the War Crimes trial of Steven D. Green.

Steven D. Green

Alsumaria explains, "An ex-US soldier was found guilty for raping an Iraqi girl and killing her family in 2006 while he might face death sentence. A high panel court found Steve Green guilty for 16 counts while a death sentence is still to be decided in trial which will start on Monday. . . . Eye witnesses have reported that Green shot dead the girl’s family in a bedroom while two other soldiers were raping her. Then, Green raped her in his turn and put a pillow on her face before shooting her. The soldiers set the body afire to cover their crime traces." March 12, 2006, Abeer Qassim Hamza al-Janabi was the 14-year-old girl. Justice finally came for Abeer and her family yesterday. Evan Bright reports on the verdict:

As the jury entered the court room, Green(red sweater vest) let out a large sigh, not of relief, but seemingly of anxiety, knowing the weight of the words to come. As Judge Thomas Russell stated "The court will now publish the verdict," Green interlaced his fingers and clasped them over his chin. Russell read the verdict flatly and absolutely. Green went from looking down at each "guilty" to eyeing the jury. His shoulders dropped as he was convicted of count #11, aggravated sexual abuse, realizing what this means. A paralegal at the defense table consoled Green by patting him on his back, even herself breaking down crying at the end of the verdicts.
After Russell finished reading the verdicts, he begged questions of the respective attorneys. Wendelsdorf, intending to ensure the absolution of the verdict, requested the jury be polled. Honorable Judge Russell asked each juror if they agreed with these verdicts, receiving a simple-but-sufficient yes from all jurors. Green watched the jury flatly.

Evan Bright is the 18-year-old high school senior who has been in the court every day of the trial and reporting on it. Something most outlets pointedly avoided. The only outlet that can hold its head high is the Associated Press which reported on it and utilized Brett Barrouquere to do so. Barrouquere has been on this story for nearly three years now and has covered the other court appearances of soldiers involved in these war crimes. Barrouquere notes some reactions in Iraq to the news of Green's convictions:

In Youssifiyah, a town near where the incident took place, there was praise for the verdict mixed with lingering anger and skepticism.
"If American court has convicted the American soldier I will consider the U.S. government to be just and fair," said Mohammed Abbas Muhsin, 36, an employee at a municipal electricity department. "This verdict will give the rights back to the family, the relatives and the clan of the victim Abeer."
But Ahmed Fadhil al-Khafaji, a 32-year-old barber, said, "The American court and government are just trying to show the world that they are fair and just." He added, "If they are really serious about it, they should hand the soldier over to an Iraqi court to be kept in Abu Ghraib prison and tried by Iraqis."
Civil servant Qassim Abed, 45, said, "Even if this court convicts him, I don't believe he will go to prison," he said. "The court should sentence them all to death for their horrible crimes."

Repeating, only the AP -- of all our news outlets -- had a reporter in the courtroom every day for this trial. He and AP deserve credit for providing the oversight the press is supposed to but so rarely does. [Link to story above goes to ABC News, if you click here and go to the Washington Post's posting of the AP article, you'll find a photo essay on the right-hand side.]

"An office administrator in the federal public defender's office patted him on the shoulder, then broke into tears," Andrew Wolfson (Courier-Journal) reports. A pity that the office administrator so quick to cry over the War Criminal didn't shed public tears over Abeer and her family. Andrew's report's actually bad. Bad reporting. We're noting that and nothing else. Take up the problems with it with him. For example, he states something took place during the trial. Really? The judge fell asleep? He would have had to have fallen asleep because he signed an ordering barring the argument Wolfson's claiming was made by the defense. The defense may run with it in the sentencing on Monday but they were barred from making that offensive argument to the jury. Marisa Ford filed a motion and the judge agreed with her and made a court order barring the defense from making that argument. Again, we're quoting the tears and we're not recommending that report. If you read it and find errors, take up with Wolfson.

CNN notes:

Spc. James Barker, one of the soldiers involved, told investigators that the soldiers were drinking whiskey, playing cards and hitting golf balls when Green brought up the idea of going to the house near the checkpoint where they were stationed to rape the girl. Barker described Green as persistent.

UK's Daily Mail adds:

Green, who had been in the 101st Airborne Division, stared straight ahead as the verdict was read in U.S. District Court in western Kentucky.
Defence lawyer Darren Wolff, speaking afterward, said they had never denied Green's involvement.
'Is this verdict a surprise to us? No. The goal has always been to save our client's life,' Wolff said.
'And, now we're going to go to the most important phase, which is the sentencing phase and we're going to accomplish that goal.'

That is hilarious. We never denied his involvement? What was the not guilty plea? I don't have time this morning to explain how wrong the statements are in depth; however, if the goal was to save your client's life, you do a better job than you did, you find a way to ensure that he's not convicted of all counts. Surely, being convicted of half of them is better than being convicted of all. Most of all, you get witnesses. They had none. Their witnesses were jokes. And they refused to put Green on the stand. He may get the death penalty and they refused to even try to use their client on the witness stand for a sympathy bid. The defense did a lousy job but it's funny to hear them claim that was the point.

Sky News reports on the case, as does the Belfast Telegraph, England's Evening Standard, Al Jazeera, the BBC, AFP, Caroline Hedley (Telegraph of London), and Reuters. And US outlets? Amy Goodman has it near the top of her Democracy Now! headlines today and USA Today blogged on it.

Green wasn't the only one in court yesterday. Tommy Witherspoon (Waco Tribune) reports US District Judge Walter S. Smith Jr. handed a 25 year sentence to William Henry Foster and a 19 year and eight month sentence to Adam R. Watson. Both US "soldiers were convicted of conspiracy to commit murder by a federal court jury in February." The one they and Watson's wife (Chantell) planned to murder was Kailey Foster, the wife of William Henry Foster.

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evan bright

brett barrouquere

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oh boy it never ends