Pfc. Andrew Holmes of Boise, already convicted for his role in the murder of an Afghan civilian, was accused today of taking part in an elaborate scheme to blame a series of war crimes on a superior.
The highest ranking of five soldiers charged with taking part in a so-called "kill team" in Afghanistan, Staff Sgt. Calvin Gibbs, faced 16 criminal charges as his court martial hearing got under way this morning at Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Washington. Holmes was previously convicted of taking part in one killing and was sentenced to seven years.
Gibbs' attorneys maintain that their client thought that the killings, which took part in early 2010, were legitimate engagements, and that his co-defendants conspired to blame him when they got caught. In an opening statement, Gibbs' attorney acknowledged that his client took fingers off three corpses and kept them as war trophies, or gave them to others involved in the killings.
Prosecutors said in opening statements that Gibbs' actions were nothing less than premeditated murder.
"This platoon is out of control," said prosecutor Capt. Dan Mazzone.