CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- A former soldier discharged because of a ``personality disorder" was accused in federal court yesterday of executing an Iraqi family so he and other troops could rape and murder a young woman they eyed at a traffic checkpoint. All the bodies were found burned, in an apparent cover up.
Steven D. Green, a skinny, 21-year-old former private who was led into court wearing baggy shorts, flip-flops, and a Johnny Cash T-shirt, became the first person identified in this latest case of alleged abuses of Iraqi civilians by US troops.
He spoke only to confirm his identity, and stared wide-eyed as a federal magistrate ordered him held without bond on murder and rape charges stemming from March slayings near the Iraqi village of Mahmoudiya. Each of the four separate murder charges carries a possible death penalty.
According to an 11-page federal affidavit, Green and three other soldiers from the 101st Airborne Division, based at Fort Campbell, Ky., had talked about raping the young woman, whom they spotted while working at the checkpoint . The document said Green and the other soldiers drank alcohol, then changed out of their uniforms to avoid detection before going to the woman's house.
Once there, the affidavit said, Green took three members of the family -- two adults, a male and a female, and a girl estimated to be 5 years old -- into a bedroom, after which shots were heard from inside.
``Green came to the bedroom door and told everyone: `I just killed them. All are dead,' " the affidavit said.
The affidavit is based on interviews conducted by the FBI and military investigators with three unidentified soldiers assigned to Green's platoon. One of the soldiers said he witnessed a soldier and Green rape the woman.
``After the rape, [the soldier] witnessed Green shoot the woman in the head two to three times," the affidavit said.
An official familiar with details of the investigation in Iraq has said a flammable liquid was used to burn the rape victim's body in an attempted cover up.
The affidavit noted that prosecutors have photos taken by Army investigators in Iraq of bodies found inside a burned house and a photo of a burned body of ``what appears to be a woman with blankets thrown over her upper torso."
The age of the young woman was unclear. FBI documents estimated her age at 25, but a neighbor of the family said the rape victim was 14 and her sister was 10.
Green, who was arrested Friday in the town of Marion, northwest of Charlotte, is being prosecuted in federal court, rather than military court, because he is no longer in the Army. According to the affidavit, his 11-month-stint ended ``before this incident came to light," when he was given an honorable discharge ``due to a personality disorder."
No other soldier has been charged in the case, said Major Joseph Breasseale, a US military spokesman in Baghdad. Military officials have said, however, that four Army soldiers have had their weapons taken away and were being confined to their base near Mahmoudiya.
The mayor of Mahmoudiya, Mouayad Fadhil, said yesterday that Iraqi authorities had started their own investigation. He said US Army officers were also seeking permission to exhume one of the bodies; the US military declined to comment because the investigation is ongoing.