A US Soldier, who pled guilty in the gang rape of a 14 year old Iraqi girl and the killing of her family, was sentenced to 100 years in prison.
Sgt. Paul Cortez pled guilty to four counts of felony murder, rape, and conspiracy to rape in the case; considered one of the worst atrocities by US military personnel in Iraq. In his plea agreement, he said he conspired with three other soldiers to rape the girl. Cortez said that another soldier also raped the girl and then shot her father, mother and sister before shooting the teen in the head. He also testified that the soldiers tried to burn the girl’s body. They burned their own clothes and threw the murder weapon, an AK-47, into a canal in an effort to dispose of the evidence. Cortez was found not guilty of premeditated murder and conspiracy to commit premeditated murder. Two other soldiers await courts-martial for the crime. The alleged ringleader was discharged from the military before charges were filed and will be tried in federal court.
Psychologist Charles Figley testified that Cortez and the other soldiers likely suffered stress brought on by fatigue and trauma. “It eats you up,” Figley said. “It’s a horrible thing. This is not unique. We’ve seen this in other wars.”