Soldiers charged with killing Afghan civilians for sport
This story was originally published by ProPublica.
ProPublica is a Pulitzer Prize-winning investigative newsroom. Sign up for The Big Story newsletter to receive stories like this one in your inbox.
In the first half of this year, members of a U.S. Army unit planned and executed the shootings of three Afghan civilians for sheer sport, according to Army charge documents.
The Washington Post and others have detailed the circumstances of the attacks, which five members of the 5th Stryker Combat Brigade are accused of orchestrating. Seven others have also been charged with crimes related to the case.
The charges involve three incidents, each of which occurred when a soldier threw a grenade in the vicinity of an Afghan civilian, creating a pretext for others to open fire as if they believed the civilian had thrown the grenade, according to the documents.
Staff Sgt. Calvin Gibbs, who other members of the unit identified as the ringleader, is accused of involvement in all three killings. So is Specialist Jeremy Morlock, who according to the Times had played a significant role in helping the Army build its case. Morlock's lawyer, the Times reported, is seeking to have client's statements withdrawn.
The accused soldiers have denied wrongdoing through attorneys and family members. Army officials declined to comment, citing an ongoing investigation.
Pre-trial hearings are scheduled for this fall at Joint Base Lewis-McChord, a military base in Washington state.