U.S. soldier charged with murder in killing of two Iraqi civilians

A U.S. soldier has been charged with two counts of premeditated murder in the killing of two Iraqi civilians.

The charges against Army Sgt. 1st Class Michael Barbera, 31, stem from an alleged shooting of two civilians near the village of As Sadah in Diyala Province in March 2007. Barbera was charged Wednesday at Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson in Alaska, U.S. Army Public Affairs Officer Major Johnpaul Arnold told the Los Angeles Times.

The incident in which Barbera is accused was first made public by an investigation by the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review in Pennsylvania last December:

“AS SADAH, Iraq — Shortly before noon on March 6, 2007, Small Kill Team leader Michael Barbera rose from his squad’s position in high grass in a palm grove here and shot two teenage cattle herders.

“A short time later, the Army staff sergeant ordered his soldiers to kill a third teenager walking toward them.

“Barbera would report to his superiors that the three dead boys were insurgents operating out of this farming village about 50 miles northeast of Baghdad.”

The boys, who were deaf, were Ahmad Khalid al-Timmimi, 15, his brother, Abbas, and their cousin, Muhamed Khaleel Kareem al-Galyani, both 14. The boys had no known ties to the insurgency and were unarmed.

According to the Tribune-Review, members of Barbera’s squad reported the killings to Army investigators in Ft. Bragg, N.C. Frustrated that no action had been taken against Barbera, squad members later approached the newspaper wanting to know the status of the investigation.

Now, under the Uniform Code of Military Justice, Barbera has been charged with Article 118, premeditated murder with two specifications of murder, and Article 134, two specifications of conduct prejudicial to good order and discipline.

Barbera has been charged in two of the three deaths. Authorities have not released the names of the two people Barbera is accused of killing.

At the time of the incident, Barbera was assigned to 5th Squadron, 73rd Cavalry Regiment, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne Division.

Barbera is currently assigned to 1st Squadron, 40th Cavalry Regiment, 4th Brigade Combat Team (Airborne), 25th Infantry Division at Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson.

He is scheduled to be transferred to Joint Base Lewis-McChord for an Article 32 hearing, which would determine whether he would face a court-martial.

The Washington base was the site of the trial this year for Army Staff. Sgt. Robert Bales. In August, Bales was sentenced to life in prison without parole after he pleaded guilty to the killing of 16 Afghan civilians.

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