Friday, November 11, 2011

Murder of Three Afghans, Ringleader of US army "kill team" sentenced

Staff Sargent Calvin Gibbs, the ringleader of a rogue US army unit responsible for the "thrill kills" of Afghan civilians has been jailed for life, after a military jury of five-member panel found him guilty at the end of a week-long court martial, and said he should serve at least ten years behind bars before being eligible for parole. He was convicted on 15 counts in all, including three of premeditated murder for his role in three killings in southern Afghanistan between January and May last year. The prosecution portrayed Gibbs as the leader of the rogue unit, which also harvested body parts from the victims as macabre war trophies. Three members of the unit had already pleaded guilty in a scandal that has threatened embarrassment for the US military on the scale of the Abu Ghraib prison abuse in Iraq. Each of the murder convictions carried a minimum life sentence. The prosecution said Gibbs should be refused parole, and turned the disgraced soldier's description of his Afghan victims as "savages" back on him. "There is the savage," said Major Dre LeBlanc, pointing at Gibbs. "Sergeant Gibbs is the savage." For the defence, attorney Phil Stackhouse asked that the jury bear in mind Gibbs' wife Chelsy and young son Calvin Jr whenconsidering a sentence, noting that Gibbs received credit for 547 days of time served. In closing arguments, prosecutor Major Robert Stelle dismissed Gibbs's claims that he was responding to legitimate attack when the team killed the Afghans.

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