Friday, November 05, 2004

Two U.S. soldiers exploded a truck into flames in Sadr City, a vast slum within Baghdad. They claimed they thought the people on the truck were insurgents planting roadside bombs. They were not. They were impoverished teenagers making extra money by unloading garbage from the trucks. Among the six or so injured young Iraqis there was one in particular who had been severely burned. He was moaning in pain. Another Iraqi on the scene, who said he was the victim's brother, pleaded with the Americans to help the victim, to get medical help. Instead, the U.S. soldier, Staff Sgt. Cardenas Alban, 29 years old, picked up an M-231 rifle and shot the young man. Almost immediately another soldier, Staff Sgt. Johnny Home, Jr., 30, shot the Iraqi teenager again with an M-16 rifle.

No one followed up at the time this killing occurred, but a few days later another American soldier informed the unit's commander via an anonymous note. U.S. military officials dismissed the event as a "mercy killing"; but military attorneys have charged the two soldiers with premeditated murder.

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