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Iraqi Slayings Get Ex-Soldier Life from Civilian Court

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By Caleb Groos on September 08, 2009 12:53 PM

Steven Dale Green received five life sentences with no possibility of parole for the rape and murder of an Iraqi teenager and for murdering three members of her family. Green was prosecuted in civilian court under the Military Extraterritorial Jurisdiction Act, which allows non-military U.S. authorities to prosecute former military personnel and military contractors for crimes committed outside the U.S.

As reported by the AP, Green was the last of five charged participants in the brutal gang rape and murder of a fourteen year old Iraqi girl plus her family in 2006. His sentence: life in prison, five times over without the possibility of parole. Of all the soldiers charged for the horrific crimes, Steven Dale Green was the only one prosecuted in civilian, rather than military court. While the others were court marshaled and received military prison sentences, Green was convicted under the Military Extraterritorial Jurisdiction Act.

In 2000, Congress passed the Military Extraterritorial Jurisdiction Act in order to allow for the punishment of crimes committed in connection with military activities but over which the Uniform Code of Military Justice did not have jurisdiction. In short, the Act allows prosecution of ex-members of the Armed Forces along with current or ex-contractors working with the Armed Forces overseas.

Specifically, if they commit crimes abroad that would be punishable by more than one year in prison if committed in the U.S., the Act allows members of the Armed Forces or those accompanying the Armed Forces abroad to be punished as called for by normal U.S. law.

The Act does not allow such a prosecution if another country is prosecuting the defendant. It also does not allow a prosecution if the person is still a member of the Armed Forces (unless the person is alleged to have committed the crime with someone not subject to military justice).

Steven Green was tried under non-military law because by the time he was to be charged, he had already been dishonorably discharged from the Army with a personality disorder, the AP reports. The other four, including three who went to the little girl's house with him, and a fourth who had lesser involvement, had not yet been discharged, and were tried by court marshal. Military justice gave the three who accompanied Green sentences of up to 110 years, with parole possible after 7 years. The fourth served 27 months in military prison before release.

Green's atorneys reportedly are considering an appeal, arguing that his discharge from the Army was improper, and thus that he was eligible for military court marshal rather than a civilian trial.

As reported by the AP, Green's defense team did not dispute his participation in the brutal slaying of the Iraqi man, woman and six year of girl before joining in the gang rape of their fourteen year old daughter and sister, whom he shot and whose body he set on fire. His defense pointed the finger at others who allegedly planned the invasion and rape, along with the Armed Forces, for accepting a troubled teen, not detecting or offering support when he struggled emotionally and not providing adequate leadership.

Green received the life sentences after his jury could not unanimously agree on a death sentence.

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