US court asked for gag order in Iraq rape-murder
Tue Jul 11, 2006 1:21 PM ET
CHICAGO (Reuters) - A lawyer for a former U.S. soldier charged with killing a family of four in Iraq and raping one of them asked a judge on Tuesday for a gag order preventing officials from President George W. Bush on down from commenting on the case.
Without that, a court filing said, 21-year-old Steven Green will not get a fair trial. He pleaded not guilty last week to four counts of murder and one count of rape, and a Kentucky grand jury is currently considering the case against him.
"This case has received prominent and often sensational coverage in virtually all print, electronic, and Internet news media in the world," the filing in U.S. District Court in Louisville, Kentucky, said.
"Strong and inflammatory opinion is rampant, including the President in a nationally televised interview deeming the alleged conduct of the defendant to be a 'despicable crime' and opining that he was 'staining the image, the honorable image of the United States military'," the motion said.
The motion, filed by Scott Wendelsdorf, a public defender assigned to Green, also cited comments on the case from Gen. Peter Pace, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
Green, discharged from the Army with a personality disorder, was charged with taking part in a home invasion, rape and murder in March in Mahmudiya, Iraq, while on duty with the Kentucky-based 101st Airborne.
Fourteen-year-old Abeer al-Janabi was raped and killed. Her parents and 6-year-old sister were also slain.
Four other soldiers still with the 502nd Infantry Regiment also face rape and murder charges and a fifth a charge of failing to report it.
A group led by al Qaeda in Iraq meanwhile has released gruesome footage of two corpses it said were U.S. soldiers killed in June to avenge the rape and murder of the Iraqi girl.
Since the military announced its investigation, Iraqis and their government have expressed mounting outrage over the case, which comes after several other murder probes involving U.S. troops. Many Iraqis have complained the troops can kill with impunity.