Five U.S. soldiers were charged in a rape and multiple murder case that has outraged Iraqis, as documents obtained by Reuters on Sunday showed the rape victim was a minor aged just 14, and not over 20 as U.S. officials say.I hesitated to post this. If Abeer Qasim Hamza al-Janabi had been 20, 30, 40 or 50 years old, the crime would be no less awful. She would have suffered just as much.
Days after former private Steven Green was charged as a civilian in a U.S. court with rape and four murders, four serving soldiers were charged with the same offences, the U.S. military said in statement that did not name the troops.
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Those court documents gave the raped daughter's estimated age as 25, though U.S. military officials in Iraq say their documents have her as 20.
Her identity card and a copy of her death certificate, however, show she was just 14.
Local officials and relatives had said she was 15 or 16.
Abeer Qasim Hamza al-Janabi was born on August 19, 1991 in Baghdad, according to the identity card, provided to Reuters by a relative. Issued in 1993, it features a photograph of her at 18 months, wide-eyed and with a lick of dark hair over her brow.
A copy of her death certificate, dated March 13, gives the same birth date. She was found at home by a relative on March 12 and had died from "gunshot wounds to the head, with burns", that document, signed by doctor Wael Habib and a registrar, asserts.
With five Americans now facing the death penalty in the case, the fact the rape victim was a minor could be a factor in sentencing in the event of any convictions. Abeer's sister Hadeel was just six when she died of "several gunshot wounds".
The killers tried to burn the bodies and house to cover their tracks, relatives and local officials have said.
I realize that there is something particularly horrific about a young girl, a child, being raped and murdered. Believe me, I understand that. But an adult woman is no less important than a child, no better equipped to endure such a horror. The flip side of recoiling at the knowledge that the victim was 14 years old is not recoiling enough if she were 24, or 34.
The important point in this revelation is that the US Army lied about the victim's age, in order to make the crime seem a little less worse.