US soldiers charged with murdering civilians in Afghanistan war
Charges against the 12 soldiers also include drug use and conspiring to cover up the alleged Afghanistan war crimes.
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A dozen US soldiers have been charged with a series of crimes committed in Afghanistan, including the murder of three Afghan civilians and the subsequent cover-up, according to documents the US Army released Wednesday.
CNN reports that the soldiers from the 5th Brigade, 2nd Infantry Division out of Washington state have been charged in connection with the attempted cover-up of the murder and assault of Afghan civilians, as well as the mutilation of dead Afghans, and drug use. The brigade operated near Kandahar.
Agence France-Presse reports that the Pentagon is worried about the effect that the case will have on perceptions of its operations in Afghanistan. Pentagon Press Secretary Geoff Morrell underscored that the allegations against the soldiers had yet to be proven and, even if they were true, they were "an aberration" among the 100,000 US troops in Afghanistan.
Nonetheless, he said, "It does not help the perceptions of our forces around the world."
Staff Sgt. Calvin Gibbs, Cpl. Jeremy Morlock, Pfc. Andrew Holmes, Spc. Michael Wagnon, and Spc. Adam Winfield – all from the 5th Stryker Brigade – were charged in June with the murder of three Afghan civilians and other crimes, including stabbing a corpse, photographing casualties, and beating other men in an effort to keep them from talking to investigators.
The remaining seven soldiers were charged last month with conspiring to cover up the murders and other crimes, such as drug use. McClatchy provides a rundown of the individual charges against each soldier. Pretrial hearings are to be held at Joint Base Lewis-McChord in Washington State later this year.