CHARLOTTE, N.C.—A former Army private was charged by federal prosecutors Monday with killing four Iraqi civilians, including one woman he allegedly raped.
Steven D. Green, formerly stationed at Fort Campbell, Ky., with the Army's 101st Airborne Division, is accused of entering a house in Mahmoudiya—a town 20 miles south of Baghdad—and raping and shooting the woman after killing her relatives. The other victims included another woman, a man and a little girl said to have been 5 years old.
A military investigation has implicated at least three other U.S. soldiers as well.
FBI agents arrested Green Friday evening near Marion, N.C., at a relative's house. He was taken to federal court in Charlotte and was scheduled to be transferred to Louisville, Ky., for trial.
Green, 21, had been discharged honorably because of a personality disorder before the incident came to light, according to documents filed in court by federal agents.
Investigators began looking into the allegations after soldiers revealed details about the incident during a "combat stress" debriefing in late June.
The investigators questioned four unidentified soldiers who told them details of the killings. Documents filed along with the criminal complaint against Green indicated that at least three others were directly involved.
The following description of the murders was outlined in a criminal complaint filed in federal court in Kentucky:
After seeing the woman during a traffic patrol, Green discussed the idea of raping her with another soldier.
On March 12, the group headed to the family's house with three rifles and a shotgun. At least two of the soldiers wore dark clothing so they "wouldn't be seen," while another remained in his military uniform.
One soldier threw the young woman to the floor and Green headed into the bedroom to keep watch over the rest of the family. After Green closed the door, the other soldiers heard shots from inside the bedroom. When Green emerged, he told the group, "I just killed them. All are dead."
Green and another soldier then raped the woman. After the rape, Green shot the woman in the head two or three times.
One soldier tossed his weapon, an AK-47, in a nearby canal. Federal prosecutors said investigators took photographs of what appears to be a burned body of a woman with blankets thrown over her torso.
When the group returned to its base later that day, they had blood on their clothes, which they burned, one soldier said.
Federal authorities, rather than the military, are prosecuting Green because he is no longer in the Army. If convicted, Green faces the death penalty for the murder charges and life in prison for the rape charge.
If the case goes to trial, Iraqi witnesses will probably have to testify in federal court in Kentucky, said Marisa Ford, chief of the criminal division for the U.S. Attorney's office in Louisville.
"These kinds of cases are rare," she said. "The obvious difficulty for us is that the alleged offense occurred outside the United States. But whether it's prosecuted by the military or in federal court, you're faced with the same difficulties."
A federal magistrate in Charlotte, where Green appeared Monday, appointed an attorney from the federal defender's office, but attorneys with the office did not return phone calls.
Green, who is registered to vote in Midland, Texas, recently had attended a funeral for a fellow soldier in Arlington, Va., and was due to return a rental car in Fort Campbell last weekend.
Army officials said they didn't know the details that led to Green's discharge, nor how long he had been stationed in Iraq.
The Associated Press reported Friday that Green and the other suspects belong to the same unit as two soldiers who were kidnapped and killed south of Baghdad last month. Both of the men reportedly had been tortured, and one beheaded.
Even in the military community around the sprawling Fort Campbell Army base, there was little sympathy for Green and other soldiers implicated in the case.
"If they did what they're accused of doing, they deserve whatever they get. All the people I've talked to" feel the same way, said Boyd Mick, commander of the Fort Campbell Post 233 of the American Legion.
(Taylor covers justice in Washington, D.C., for McClatchy Newspapers. Manware is a reporter for The Charlotte Observer. Bill Estep of The Lexington Herald-Leader also contributed.)
(c) 2006, McClatchy-Tribune Information Services.