I hate Iraqis, rape accused
tells military court
By Mail & Echo
11/17/06 "icWales" -- -- One of four US soldiers accused of
raping a 14-year-old Iraqi girl showed little remorse, and
even smiled during a confession to charges he conspired to
kill her and her family.
Even before the hearing at Fort Campbell, Kentucky, to
announce a plea agreement, Spc James Barker, 23, slapped
hands with other soldiers and grinned as he smoked a
cigarette in the rain. A bailiff scolded him.
And when he described for the judge the assault in his own
words, he gave vivid details of the rape with deadpan
"That’s pretty much all I have to say," Barker muttered with
a shrug after describing raping the screaming girl.
Barker agreed to plead guilty to the charges to avoid the
death penalty, his civilian lawyer David Sheldon said. The
agreement requires him to testify against three other
soldiers and a former US Army private also accused in the
March 12 attack in Mahmoudiya, 20 miles south of Baghdad
At one point, the military judge presiding over the case, Lt
Col Richard Anderson, asked Barker why he had decided with
other soldiers to commit the rape and murders.
"I hated Iraqis, your honour," Barker answered. "They can
smile at you, then shoot you in your face without even
thinking about it."
Anderson accepted the plea agreement, which calls for Barker
to serve life in prison. The judge will decide later today
in a hearing whether Barker should be allowed to seek
Sgt Paul Cortez, 24, and Pfc Jesse Spielman, 22, members of
the 101st Airborne Division with Barker, are also charged in
the case. Cortez deferred entering a plea during his court
appearance yesterday. Spielman will appear in December.
The fourth soldier, Pfc Bryan Howard, 19, had also deferred
entering a plea at his appearance in October.
A fifth person, former army private Steve Green, 21, pleaded
not guilty last week to civilian charges including murder
and sexual assault.
The soldiers were stationed in a violent area known as the
"Triangle of Death" because of frequent attacks on soldiers
patrolling the roads. Soldiers in Barker’s unit, the 502nd
Infantry Regiment, were often asked to spend weeks manning
remote checkpoints, where several from the unit died.
Sheldon told reporters during a news conference following
the hearing that Barker took responsibility for his actions,
but he also said the US Army was to blame for the way the
war in Iraq was being fought.
"The US Army did not staff, did not put enough soldiers on
the checkpoints," Sheldon said. "It’s very important that
the public knows that this type of thing can happen again if
the army doesn’t take measures to put enough troops on the
front line in the war against terrorism, the war in Iraq."
Barker, who whispered frequently during the hearing to his
military lawyer, Captain James Culp, told the judge that
Green approached him with the plan to attack the family
while they were drinking whiskey purchased from Iraqi Army
Barker described changing clothes, then climbing through
back gardens as the five left the checkpoint. He also
described in vivid detail raping Abeer Qassim al-Janabi with
Cortez and Green before Green killed the girl, her younger
sister and parents.
The defendants also are accused of burning the girl’s body
to conceal the crime, which is considered among the worst in
a series of alleged attacks on civilians and other abuses
that tarnished the US military mission in Iraq
Barker did not name Spielman and Howard as participants in
the rape and murders though he said they were at the house
when the assault occurred and had come knowing what the
others intended to do.
Howard and Cortez, who with Spielman could face the death
penalty if convicted, watched with straight faces as Barker
described the assault. They were accompanied by their
lawyers and declined to comment. Cortez and Spielman are
being held in confinement while Howard is restricted to
Barker said he, Green and Cortez raped the girl, and Green
killed the girl, her parents and her sister. He said
Spielman was in the room, but was holding a door closed
during the rape.
Green was discharged from the army for a "personality
disorder" before the allegations became known and
prosecutors have yet to say if they will pursue the death
penalty against him.
© owned by or licensed to Western Mail & Echo Limited 2006