Rape, Murder, War Crimes and a Plea

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While we’re on the subject of rape in Iraq, remember, back last March when five U.S. soldiers gang raped the Iraqi teenager and killed her and her family? Well, a second American soldier, Sergeant Paul Cortez, has pleaded guilty to the gang rape of a 14 year old in Mahmudiyah.

According to Cortez’s plea,

“While we were playing cards Barker and Green started talking about having sex with an Iraqi female. Barker and Green had already known…” Cortez said before breaking down. He bowed his head and remained silent, sniffling occasionally, for a full minute before continuing. “Barker and Green had already known what, um, house they wanted to go to. They had been there before and knew only one male was in the house, and knew it would be an easy target,” Cortez said.

Cortez went on to describe how the group changed their clothes so they would not be recognized as American soldiers on the way to the house. When he began crying again, his lawyer asked the court for a recess, which was granted.

When the court-martial opened Tuesday, a military judge read a guilty plea in which Cortez described how, in addition to raping the girl, he held her down and acted as a lookout so other soldiers could take their turns raping her before she was shot to death. In the plea agreement, Cortez said he held the girl’s hands while Barker raped her, then he raped her himself…

Meanwhile, the suspected ringleader, Steven Green, shot dead the girl’s father, mother, and 6-year-old sister. He then raped the girl while Cortez acted as a lookout and Green finally shot the girl dead.

What an atrocity. And is it any wonder that we are now seeing Iraqi forces accused of rape? Look who trained them.

But at least this case was uncovered. How many barbaric acts such as these go unreported or undiscovered? Several media outlets are reporting that this case “was considered among the worst in a series of alleged atrocities by U.S. military personnel in Iraq” but there may very well be many more cases of violations and war crimes that we never hear of. We should also remember that war crimes are more prevalent and systematic than we think.

— Neha Inamdar

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