A military tribunal will begin today for the first of twelve US soldiers who are accused of killing Afghan civilians.
The accused are alleged to have chosen their victims at random. And collected their fingers as trophies.
The tribunal will decide whether Army Specialist Jeremy Morlock’s case proceeds to court-martial. Morlock is charged with premeditated murder in the deaths of three Afghan civilians, assaulting a fellow soldier, and “wrongfully photographing and possessing visual images of human casualties.” Morlock and other soldiers allegedly took photos posing with the dead Afghan civilians.
The trials of Morlock and the other soldiers will likely be the most high-profile prosecutions of US war crimes to result from the nearly nine-year-old conflict in Afghanistan.
Morlock is said to have admitted the crimes to investigators. However his own attorney now says the statements should be discounted because Morlock was interviewed while under the influence of drugs.
It seems hard to believe that serving soldiers of any army would use “being under the influence of drugs” as a defence.
Worrying stuff indeed. But this trial is important. It will be a real test of whether the US army/government has the real will to prosecute its own armed forces for war crimes in Afghanistan.
Judging by past failures, it’s hard to be optimistic, although the fact that these men are facing any trial at all should be applauded.
We will be keeping a careful watch on the proceedings.