According to military charge sheets, five rough members of a platoon from the 5th Stryker Combat Brigade, 2nd Infantry Division were charged of three murders in Kandahar province between January and May. Seven others were charged with crimes related to the case, including hashish use, attempts to impede the investigation and a retaliatory gang assault on a private who blew the whistle.
They have also been charged with dismembering and photographing corpses, as well as keeping a skull and bones as trophies. All have denied any wrongdoing.
As more attention is brought to the case, military officials worry that angered Afghan civilians may withdraw support for the U.S. led military offensive against the Taliban, which they consider as critical.
Pre-trial hearings have been scheduled this fall to be held at Joint Base Lewis-McChord, home of the Stryker Brigade.
The arrests were coincidentally brought after military police who were investigating reports of hashish use in the platoon impelling one soldier, turned informant who was later mauled by the charged suspects led by Staff Sgt. Calvin R. Gibbs.
The informant told military police that, "when they are out at a village, wander off and kill someone and every time they say the same thing, about a guy throwing a grenade, but there is never proof."
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