Soldier returned to U.S.

September 15, 2006|by JENNIFER FITCH

CHAMBERSBURG, Pa. - A military spokeswoman on Thursday confirmed Pfc. Jesse V. Spielman and the rest of the group accused in an Iraqi rape-slaying recently returned to the United States for pretrial confinement.

Four soldiers from the Army's 101st Airborne Division based in Fort Campbell, Ky., have been recommended for court-martial in the March assault.

The soldiers had been detained overseas, but have been sent to an undisclosed location in the United States, Fort Campbell spokeswoman Cathy Gramling said.

She said she has not been made aware of the level of confinement, which would dictate whether the soldiers were assigned duties.


Spielman, a 2002 Chambersburg Area Senior High School graduate; Spc. James P. Barker; Sgt. Paul E. Cortez; and Pfc. Bryan L. Howard are accused of abandoning their traffic checkpoint in Mahmoudiya, raping 14-year-old Abeer Qassim al-Janabi, fatally shooting her, setting her body on fire and killing her parents and sister.

The presiding investigating officer in an Article 32 hearing held in August recommended the rape and murder charges be forwarded to court-martial. That hearing, similar to a civilian grand jury, gave the military the opportunity to present its case, with the officer determining if enough evidence existed to proceed.

Col. Dwight Warren, the investigating officer, said in his report that "reasonable grounds exist to believe that each of the accused committed the offense for which he is charged."

An Iraqi investigative panel is launching its own probe into the case. That move had been promised by Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki under increased demands for changes in an agreement that exempts U.S. soldiers from prosecution in Iraqi courts.

Spielman's civilian defense lawyer from Chambersburg, Thomas Trgovac, said the court-martial will be in Fort Campbell but probably won't start for several months.

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