Friday, February 23, 2007

U.S. Soldier Gets 100 Years in Prison in Rape of Iraqi Girl, Killing of Her and Her Family


FORT CAMPBELL, Ky. Feb 23, 2007 (AP)— A U.S. soldier sentenced to 100 years in prison for the gang rape and murder of an Iraqi girl and killing of her family said he was sorry but that he couldn't explain why he did it.

Sgt. Paul E. Cortez, 24, wept as he apologized at his sentencing hearing Thursday for raping 14-year-old Abeer Qassim al-Janabi and taking part in killing her and her family.

"I still don't have an answer," Cortez told the judge. "I don't know why. I wish I hadn't. The lives of four innocent people were taken. I want to apologize for all of the pain and suffering I have caused the al-Janabi family."

Cortez, of Barstow, Calif., pleaded guilty this week to four counts of felony murder, rape and conspiracy to rape in a case considered among the worst atrocities by U.S. military personnel in Iraq.

In his plea agreement, he said he conspired with three other soldiers from the Fort Campbell-based 101st Airborne Division to rape the girl.

The military judge hearing the case, Col. Stephen R. Henley, issued a sentence of life in prison without parole, the maximum for the charges. Under military law, the defendant is given the lesser sentence unless he violates terms of the plea agreement, which require Cortez to testify against others charged in the case.

Psychologist Charles Figley testified that Cortez and the other soldiers likely suffered stress brought on by fatigue and trauma......

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