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Soldier jailed for killing for fun

March 25, 2011

US soldier gets 24 years for murder

A n American soldier has been sentenced to 24 years in prison for the deaths of three civilians in Afghanistan.

SEATTLE: A US soldier who pleaded guilty to killing Afghan civilians for fun has been sentenced to up to 24 years’ jail.

Corporal Jeremy Morlock, one of five soldiers from a US Army Stryker brigade accused of staging combat situations to kill three civilians in Afghanistan last year, has agreed to testify against the other defendants.

He told the military judge presiding over the case that the deaths were neither justified nor accidental.

”The plan was to kill people, sir,” Morlock told the judge at the start of his court martial.

Some of the soldiers in the case are accused of posing with dead Afghans in photographs then sharing the pictures with others.

The German magazine Der Spiegel published three photographs this week, including one that appears to show Morlock smiling as he holds the head of a dead man by the hair.

”Soldiers who commit offences will be held accountable as appropriate,” the army said. It has described the actions as repugnant.

The sentence, plea and agreement to testify followed an agreement Morlock and his lawyers negotiated with prosecutors in January.

The typical sentence for the charges to which he pleaded guilty, including three charges of premeditated murder, conspiracy to commit murder and assault, is life in prison, with the possibility of parole.

Morlock, 22, of Wasilla, Alaska, is the first of the five to face a court martial.

In court he affirmed the accuracy of statements he had signed earlier, in which he said that another of the accused, a superior, Staff Sergeant Calvin Gibbs, was the ringleader in the killings.

A lawyer for Sergeant Gibbs has said all the killings were justified combat situations.

Morlock apologised to families of the victims, ”the people of Afghanistan themselves” and fellow soldiers.

He made several references to his close relationship to his father, a former US Army paratrooper who died in 2007.

”I violated not only the law but the army core values, and I also violated the principles my father instilled in me,” he said, adding that he had ”lost my moral compass”.

The New York Times  

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