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Category: International, Violence against Women

Obscure Beginnings to Justice for Abeer

November 9, 2006

While most of the country was focused on the election aftermath, former U.S. soldier Steven D. Green was quietly arraigned today at a U.S. courthouse in Louisville, Kentucky, three blocks from the Show n’ Tell Lounge advertising “girls, girls, girls.”

On the 17 counts against him, including the alleged rape and murder of Abeer Qassim Hamza al-Janabi, a14 year old Iraqi girl, and the murder of her family in March of this year, Green and his defense team, Patrick Bouldin and Scott Wendelsdorf, entered a formal plea of “not guilty.” A number of the counts, including premeditated and felony murder, carry a minimum life sentence, with the possibility of the death penalty.

Green, who did not speak during the proceedings, appeared thin and drawn in his civilian khaki pants. His military regulation hair cut is beginning to grow out, and he now wears a full beard. Far from appearing with the team of high-powered defense attorneys that we’ve come to expect in high-profile cases, Green is being represented by the federal public defenders office in Louisville.

Green was honorably discharged from the military due to a “personality disorder” in May before the current allegations, and subsequent charges, were made. As a result, he is being tried in U.S. District Court for alleged crimes committed while on active duty in Iraq. Five others charged are still in the military and will likely face court-martial. Green’s case is being tried in Louisville—not in North Carolina where he was arrested nor in Texas, his former primary residence—presumably because of the city’s proximity to Ft. Campbell, the base to which he was assigned while serving with the 101st Airborne Division.

All of the attorneys involved, including defense attorneys Bouldin and Wendelsdorf, and the prosecutors, Assistant U.S. Attorney Marisa Ford and Brian Skaret from the Department of Justice in DC, declined to comment on the particulars of the case and neither side said they planned to make any statements in the near future. The one thing Ford would say is that Green is in the custody of the U.S. Marshal Service, since it’s been unclear up to this point where he is being held.

They’re not the only ones who aren’t talking. Green’s arraignment passed unnoticed by most here in Kentucky and elsewhere. This is likely to change once the trial begins in earnest, but today the only observers were a handful of reporters in the courtroom from the local Louisville newspaper, radio station, and Fox affiliate. None of Green’s family members were in appearance—and there was no one present today to represent Abeer or her family.

This report continues the Women’s Media Center seriesand organizing campaign focusing on the crimes against Abeer Qassim al-Janabi and their implications for the U.S. military and foreign policy. For more of the Iraq Series, go to WMC Campaigns. The next procedural hearing in this case is scheduled via conference call on November 29, 2006.