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US soldier admits rape and murder of 14-year-old Iraqi

A US soldier accused of raping and murdering a 14-year-old Iraqi girl has admitted the charges in order to avoid the death penalty.

Twenty-three-year-old James Barker and four of his colleagues are accused of raping the girl and then killing her and her family in the town of Mahmoudiya last March.

He has pleaded guilty as part of an agreement with prosecutors that will see him avoid the death penalty and serve life in prison instead.

Barker has also agreed to testify against his colleagues.

When asked by the judge why he had committed the rape and murders, he said: "I hated Iraqis, your honour. They can smile at you, then shoot you in your face without even thinking about it."

Meanwhile, another US soldier has been sentenced to 18 months in military custody as part of a plea deal in a separate murder case.

John Jodka had been accused along with seven others of kidnapping and murdering a 52-year-old Iraqi man in the town of Hamdania.

Under the plea deal, he admitted assault and conspiracy to obstruct justice and agreed to testify against his colleagues in return for the dropping of the kidnapping and murder charges.

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From Belfast Telegraph