The US soldier plead guilty to being part of a “kill team” who deliberately murdered Afghan civilians for sport last year.
Hunting civilians for sport:
After his plea, Army Specialist Jeremy Morlock, 23, told a military court he had helped to kill three unarmed Afghans. He told an army judge in Fort Lea, near Seattle, “The plan was to kill people, sir.”
Outraged headlines around the world were written because of this case. American television broadcast come of the videotaped confessions to investigators in which Morlock detailed how he and other members of his Stryker brigade set up and faked combat situations so that they could kill civilians who posed no threat to them. Four more soldiers are still to be tried over the incidents.
The case is a PR nightmare for America’s military. It has been compared to other incidents in the past such as the notorious incidents of torture that emerged from the Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq.
German magazine Der Spiegel published three pictures this week showing American soldiers, Morlock among them, posing with the corpse of a young Afghan boy as if it were a hunting trophy.
Some of the soldiers kept body parts of their victims as souvenirs, including a skull.
The US army issued a statement in response to the publication of the photos where it apologized to the families of the dead. The statement said: “[The photos are] repugnant to us as human beings and contrary to the standards and values of the United States army.”
The murders took place between January and May last year, according to Morlock’s testimony. They were initiated by an officer in his unit, Staff Sergeant Calvin Gibbs.
They made elaborate plans to pick out civilian targets, kill them and then make their deaths look like they were insurgents. Morlock said in the confession: “We identify a guy. Gibbs makes a comment, like, you know, you guys wanna wax this guy or not.” Morlock then described shooting a victim as Gibbs tossed a grenade at him.
Morlock struck a plea bargain meaning that he will serve a lighter sentence in return for testifying against his fellow soldiers. He stands to be sentenced at least 24 years in jail but with eligibility for parole after seven years.