U.S. soldier will go to trial over Afghan deaths
SEATTLE – In one of the first major decisions in a high-profile war-crimes case, an Army commander has ordered Spc. Jeremy Morlock to face a general court-martial for allegedly murdering three Afghan men and other crimes.
The court-martial was announced Friday, and Morlock, a 22-year-old from Wasilla, Alaska, if convicted could face a maximum sentence of life imprisonment without parole. The Army has decided not to seek the death penalty, according to Morlock’s attorney, Michael Waddington.
Morlock is one of five soldiers from the 5th Brigade, 2nd Infantry Division facing murder charges for their alleged involvement in one or more of the deaths of three Afghan civilians. Another seven soldiers are accused of other crimes ranging from assault of a fellow soldier to smoking hashish and possession of body parts.
Collectively, the charges against the dozen soldiers form one of the most serious war-crimes cases from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Morlock is alleged to be a key participant in a “kill team” formed by rogue soldiers who in January, February and May of this year allegedly killed three unarmed Afghan men, and then dropped grenades or an AK-47 by the corpses to make the killings appear justified under the NATO rules of engagement. Other charges result from Morlock’s alleged assault of another soldier, smoking hashish and possessing photos of corpses.