Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Soldier faces court martial for alleged role in Afghan sport killings

The court martial of another U.S. soldier accused of taking part in killing unarmed Afghan civilians for sport is set to begin Wednesday.

Staff Sgt. David Bram is one of 12 members of the Army's 5th Stryker Brigade facing charges in connection with the killings that took place over a period of five months at or near Forward Operating Base Ramrod in southern Afghanistan's volatile Kandahar province last year.

Three have pleaded guilty to the murders and agreed to testify against fellow soldiers. Another six have been convicted of lesser crimes.

And last week, a military court-martial found another, Staff Sgt. Calvin Gibbs, guilty of murdering three Afghan civilians, illegally cutting off pieces of their corpses to keep as "souvenirs" and planting weapons to make the men appear as if they were Taliban fighters killed in legitimate firefights.
The platoon was tasked with patrolling small villages in the area to build relationships with an Afghan population wary of the U.S. presence in their country.

Instead, prosecutors say the group of rogue soldiers allegedly plotted to murder civilians and then planted weapons on them.

Bram is not accused of murder or conspiracy to commit murder.

Prosecutors charged him with conspiracy to commit assault and battery, unlawfully striking another soldier, violating a lawful order, dereliction of duty, cruelty and maltreament and endeavoring to impede an investigation.

He faces 9 1/2 years in prison if he is convicted of all charges, the military said.

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