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Iraq child rape slur on US soldiers

Baghdad, July 9 (Reuters): Five US soldiers were charged in a rape and multiple murder case that has outraged Iraqis, as documents obtained by Reuters showed the rape victim was a minor aged just 14, and not over 20 as American officials say.

Days after former private Steven Green was charged as a civilian in a US court with rape and four murders, four serving soldiers were charged with the same offences, the US military said in statement that did not name the troops.

Another soldier, apparently a sixth member of Green’s former unit in the 502nd Infantry Regiment, was charged on Saturday with dereliction of duty for not reporting the crime in March.

All five were charged with conspiring with Green, who is accused by US prosecutors of going with three others to a house near the checkpoint they were manning outside Mahmudiya, near Baghdad, and of killing a couple and their two daughters.

The court documents gave the raped daughter’s estimated age as 25, though US military officials say their documents show 20.

Her identity card and a copy of her death certificate, however, show she was just 14.

Local officials and relatives had said she was 15 or 16.

Abeer Qasim Hamza al-Janabi was born on August 19, 1991 in Baghdad, according to the identity card, provided to Reuters by a relative.

Issued in 1993, it features a photograph of her at 18 months, wide-eyed and with a lick of dark hair over her brow.

A copy of her death certificate, dated March 13, gives the same birth date.

She was found at home by a relative on March 12 and had died from “gunshot wounds to the head, with burns”, that document, signed by doctor Wael Habib and a registrar, asserts.

With five Americans now facing the death penalty in the case, the fact the rape victim was a minor could be a factor in sentencing in the event of any convictions.

Abeer’s sister Hadeel was just six when she died of “several gunshot wounds”.

The killers tried to burn the bodies and house to cover their tracks, relatives said.

Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki, balancing a dependence on US firepower with a need to show Iraqis he is in charge, has voiced frustration with a mounting number of cases against Americans and wants a review of their immunity from Iraqi law.

Since revelations in March of a US probe into whether Marines killed 24 people at Haditha, Mahmudiya is the fifth case of serious crime being investigated by the military.

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