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Last Updated: Thursday, 22 February 2007, 16:22 GMT
US soldier admits murdering girl
Room where rape and killing took place
The house in Mahmudiya where the rape and killings took place
A second US soldier's plea of guilty to the gang rape of a 14-year-old Iraqi girl and the killing of her and her family has been accepted by a judge.

Sgt Paul Cortez admitted four murders, rape and conspiracy to rape. His plea means he will avoid the death penalty.

In November, Specialist James Barker, 24, admitted rape and murder over the killings and was jailed for 90 years.

Cortez broke down as he confessed to raping the girl as her parents and sister were shot dead in another room.

The case is one of several in which US troops are accused of killing Iraqis.

According to the plea agreement, Cortez admitted conspiring with three other soldiers, Private First Class Jesse Spielman, Specialist Barker and Steven Green, a now discharged soldier, to rape Abeer Qassim al-Janabi.

Card game

Pte Spielman and another man, Bryan Howard, are awaiting court martial on charges related to the attack.

Green came out of the bedroom and said that he had killed them all, that all of them were dead
Sgt Paul Cortez

Mr Green is being tried as a civilian because he was discharged from the army before his superiors knew of his suspected involvement. He denies the charges against him.

All five belonged to the 101st Airborne Division based at Fort Campbell, Kentucky, which is also where the hearing took place.

In court, Cortez admitted the plan was hatched as they played cards and that the girl had been targeted because there was only one male in her house, making it an easy target.

Family murdered

He said: "During the time me and Barker were raping Abeer, I heard five or six gunshots that came from the bedroom.

"After Barker was done, Green came out of the bedroom and said that he had killed them all, that all of them were dead."

Cortez added: "Green then placed himself between Abeer's legs to rape her. When Green was finished, he stood up and shot Abeer in the head two or three times."

The entire crime took about five minutes and the girl knew her parents and sister had been shot while she was being raped, the hearing heard.


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