Court-Martial Begins For Soldier Charged In Iraq Rape-Killing

FORT CAMPBELL, Ky. (AP) - Defense attorneys say Private Jesse Spielman crept alongside three soldiers as they cut through wire fences to enter the home of a 14-year-old Iraqi girl, not knowing about the rape and murder that would follow.

Defense attorney Craig Carlson says it seemed like another routine raid in an area gripped by insurgents.

A military judge began hearing pretrial motions at Fort Campbell this morning and a jury is expected to be seated this afternoon.

Spielman is not accused of raping and killing Abeer Qassim al-Janabi or slaying her family in March last year. Instead, prosecutors say he knew of the plan, did nothing to stop it once it began and touched the girl's nude body before the soldiers left.

Spielman was described as the only soldier wearing a military uniform when the soldiers entered the residence. The others had changed into black nylon pants and shirts with cloth to cover their faces.

Attorneys say that difference illustrates Spielman's ignorance of what the others intended to do. Under military law, however, a soldier present when a crime occurs can be found guilty if prosecutors can establish the soldier had prior knowledge.

(Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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