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July 20, 2006

Soldiers accused of rape and murder in Iraq facing military justice

Four soldiers from the Armys elite 101st Airborne Division, charged with raping a 14-year-old girl and murdering her parents and 6-year-old sister, are going to face justice, military-style. That means theyll be judged by fellow soldiers who know the stresses of combat. It means theyll have certain legal protections that civilian defendants dont. And it means, if history is a judge, that theyre likely to be convicted. The four are Spc. James Paul Barker of Fresno, Calif.; Sgt. Paul E. Cortez of Barstow, Calif.; Pfc. Jesse V. Spielman, whose mother lives in Chambersburg, Pa.; and Pfc. Bryan L. Howard, whos from a small town northeast of Houston. A fifth soldier, Sgt. Anthony W. Yribe, from a small town south of Ketchum, Idaho, has been charged with dereliction of duty but not with the rape and killings. A former soldier, Steven D. Green, the alleged ringleader in the incident, has been arrested in North Carolina and charged in federal court. The courts-martial of the five active-duty soldiers will differ from Greens civilian trial because the Uniform Code of Military Justice has different rules and procedures from those used in civilian courts.

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