U.S. military charges 8 soldiers with Iraq murders

Eight U.S. soldiers will be court-martialled on murder charges stemming from their service in Iraq, including two who face a death sentence for allegedly raping a 14-year-old girl and killing her and her family.

Eight U.S. soldiers will be court-martialled on murder charges stemming from their service in Iraq, including two who face a death sentence for allegedly raping a 14-year-old girl and killing her and her family, the military ordered Wednesday.

The soldiers facing the death penalty are Sgt. Paul Cortez and Pte. 1st ClassJesse Spielman. Both are accused of raping Abeer Qassim al-Janabi in her family's home in Mahmoudiya, then killing her along with her parents and younger sister.

Spc. James Barker and Pte. 1st ClassBryan Howard are also accused in the rape and murders but will not face the death penalty, the military said in a statement.

Formerprivate Steven Green, who was discharged for a personality disorder and arrested in North Carolina, will be tried in Federal Court in Kentucky. Green has pleaded not guilty to one count of rape and four counts of murder.

Military prosecutors havealleged the five soldiers from the 101st Airborne Division planned the attack from a checkpoint near the family's home, changed their clothing to hide their identities and set the girl's body on fire to destroy evidence.

Four soldiers from the division also will be tried in a separate court martial on charges of murdering Iraqi detainees in northern Iraq's Salahuddin province during a raid on a village.

Pte. 1st ClassCorey Clagett, Spc. William Hunsaker, Staff Sgt. Raymond Girouard and Spc. Juston Graber are accused of murdering three Iraqi men taken from a house May 9 on a marshy island outside Samarra, about90kilometres north of Baghdad.