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U.S. Soldier Said to Rape Iraqi Teen, Kill Family

MADELEINE BRAND, host:

From NPR West, this is DAY TO DAY. I'm Madeleine Brand. Coming up, two politicians claim victory as the next president of Mexico.

First, though, another unfolding scandal involving American troops in Iraq. Former U.S. soldier Steven Green has been charged with murder and rape, allegedly committed while serving in Iraq. Green is accused of raping a 15-year-old girl and then shooting and killing her. He is also charged with murdering her mother, father, and 5-year-old sister. At least three other soldiers may be involved.

According to a story in today's Washington Post, before she died the 15-year-old victim was afraid. She had told her mother repeatedly that U.S. soldiers were making advances toward her as she passed through a military checkpoint almost every day.

This investigation is at least the fourth involving the killing of Iraqi civilians by U.S. forces. I spoke earlier, with Washington Post reporter Josh White.

Mr. JOSH WHITE (Reporter, The Washington Post): Well, at this point what's interesting is we're hearing one side of it. We're hearing the version from the Iraqi family, through neighbors and through officials on the ground, what had happened back in March.

Now, these allegations didn't really come forward until just recently. Apparently, what had happened, was a couple of soldiers, who may or may not have been actually involved in the event, came forward and told Army officials that this had happened, that they had concerns about it, and that there should probably be an investigation.

My understanding is that this was then launched right into an investigation. The Army officials started looking at it, pretty much immediately. And at this point, the Army is not really putting forward a whole lot of details about what had happened because they're trying to backtrack, they're trying to figure out what had happened.

BRAND: How many Army soldiers are allegedly involved?

Mr. WHITE: Well, we've heard that it may be as many as five. It may be four. In that case, we'd be looking at really a small group of soldiers. And the allegations we've heard to this point is that they may have plotted this, that they may have noticed this girl on previous patrols, and may have gone to this house on purpose.

Now, certainly, an investigation will reveal whether or not that's true. But if so, I mean, these are fairly significant allegations. It's something that the Iraqi people will take very seriously. Something like a rape is really considered an atrocity in that society.

And in the sense, as comparing it to other homicide cases we've heard of, this could, in some ways, garner more attention, more outrage in Iraq, than some of the other cases.

BRAND: And on top of the rape and the deaths of this victim and her family, there was also apparently an attempt to burn her body?

Mr. WHITE: Well, again, that's what we're hearing. The medical records indicate that the victim was burned. We've heard from our reporters in Iraq, who've been covering this very closely, said that people reported, that possibly the victim's hair and a pillow, found by her body, were burned.

The Associated Press has reported that the soldiers may have used some sort of a flammable liquid to try to burn the body, burn the house, to cover up the alleged crimes.

You know, certainly we'll learn more about this as we go forward. But if that is the case, you know, certainly, again, it just adds to the horror of what may have happened.

BRAND: And initially, I understand, that this was ascribed to insurgents, who may have done this.

Mr. WHITE: Yes. The U.S. troops apparently said that Sunni insurgents in the area - blamed the deaths, again, of about four family members, the girl and her relatives, to insurgent activity. People on the ground are skeptical of that because this family, apparently, was Sunni, and that that would be unusual for such type of violence.

BRAND: Well, Josh, catch us up with these other investigations of alleged atrocities by U.S. forces.

Mr. WHITE: Well, sure. I mean, the two major ones that are of significant discussion recently are the cases in Hamdaniya and the case in Haditha. They're two very different cases, in the sense that what actually happened on the ground, arose from very different circumstances.

With the Hamdaniya case, you've got allegations that these Marines targeted this man and then executed him, and their claims that they were on a mission.

In Haditha, you've got a case where a group of Marines were on a mission, came under attack, and then may have gone a bit overboard in the way in which they reacted.

This third case is, again, very different. You've got a group of soldiers who, if the allegations hold up, targeted this woman, went after her, physically and violently attacked her and then killed the witnesses to cover it up.

Now again, we have not heard the other side of the story in this case. So, again, these are allegations. But if true, it's a very different case than the other two. Still, again, an atrocity.

BRAND: Josh White is a reporter for The Washington Post. Thank you, Josh.

Mr. WHITE: You're very welcome. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.