US soldier to face court martial over Afghan killings

A member of a rogue US army unit that allegedly killed Afghan civilians for sport has waived his right to a pre-trial hearing and will face a full court martial, officials said.

Seattle: A member of a rogue US army unit
that allegedly killed Afghan civilians for sport has waived
his right to a pre-trial hearing and will face a full court
martial, officials said.

Specialist Adam Winfield, the first to waive the right,
is charged with premeditated murder over the May killing of an
Afghan man who prosecutors say died after soldiers threw a
grenade at him, then shot him with a rifle.

The 21-year-old, one of a dozen soldiers facing charges
ranging from violating army protocol to murder and taking body
parts from the victims, is also charged with smoking hashish,
according to an army statement.

The accused all belong to Bravo Company, 2nd Battalion,
1st Infantry Regiment, from the 2nd Infantry Division`s
Stryker Brigade stationed at Forward Operating Base Ramrod in
southern Afghanistan.

Winfield`s decision to avoid a pre-trial hearing and go
straight to full court martial came on the heels of a plea
deal taken earlier this week by another accused soldier,
Sergeant Robert Stevens.

On Wednesday, Stevens received a nine-month jail sentence
and a demotion to private for shooting at people working in a
field while on patrol in Afghanistan. Stevens claims he
intentionally missed.

In exchange for evading a dishonourable discharge,
Stevens will testify against the other members of his unit,
including alleged ring-leader Staff Sergeant Calvin Gibbs.
In taking his plea deal, Stevens claimed the order to
shoot came from Gibbs.

Winfield could also have a significant role in helping
prosecutors` case against Gibbs.

Winfield`s father Christopher said in September that his
son sent him Facebook messages from Afghanistan claiming that
Gibbs was getting away with murder.

According to the elder Winfield, his son feared that
saying anything would put his life in jeopardy.

The army has not scheduled a date for Winfield`s full
court martial.

PTI

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