A US soldier who pleaded guilty Wednesday to the murders of three Afghan civilians was sentenced to 24 years in prison after saying “the plan was to kill people” in a conspiracy with four fellow soldiers. Military judge Lieutenant Colonel Kwasi Hawks passed the sentence. The 22-year-old Morlock is a key figure in a war crimes probe that has raised some of the most serious criminal allegations to come from the war in Afghanistan.
Army investigators accused him of taking a lead role in the killings of three unarmed Afghan men in Kandahar province in January, February and May 2010. His sentencing came hours after he pleaded guilty to the three counts of murder and one count each of conspiracy, obstructing justice and illegal drug use at his court martial at Joint Base Lewis-McChord, south of Seattle. Morlock is the first of five soldiers from the 5th Stryker Brigade to be court-martialed in the case. He will be dishonourably discharged as part of his sentence. Under his plea deal, he has agreed to testify against his co-defendants. Morlock had told investigators the murder plot was led by Staff Sergeant Calvin Gibbs of Billings, Mont., who is also charged in the case; Gibbs maintains the killings were legitimate. Morlock said he joined the Army hoping to follow in the footsteps of his father, a retired paratrooper. Morlock told the judge that he and the other soldiers first began plotting to murder unarmed Afghans in late 2009, several weeks before the first killing took place.
To make the killings appear justified, the soldiers planned to plant weapons near the bodies of the victims, he said. Morlock also admitted to smoking hashish while stationed in Afghanistan, though he said he was not under the influence of the drug at the time of the killings. In addition, he admitted to being one of six soldiers who assaulted a fellow platoon member after that man reported the drug use going on in the platoon. The Daily Mail poses the question that if Morlock has been given 24 years of imprisonment, which has been criticized by the US media as being lenient, what kind of punishment Raymond Davis will be meted out for the cold blooded murder of the two Pakistanis Faheem and Faizan and causing the death of a third motor cyclist Obaidullah and the suicide of Shumaila, the widow of one of the murder victims. The US Ambassador to Islamabad, Cameron Munter had assured the media on Raymond Davis’s release that he would be tried in the US for his crime. It is hoped that not only will Raymond Davis be sentenced according to his crime but will not be let off on the plea of self defence, which he had tried to do in Pakistan. The police investigation in Lahore had rejected the plea of self defence by Mr. Raymond Davis, since the two victims had been shot in the back. Mere possession of arms by the duo of Faheem and Faizan cannot be construed as their having posed any danger to Raymond Davis. In case Raymond Davis gets off scot free at his home turf, it would be most unfortunate. Let us hope good sense prevails within the US judicial system – Dailymailnews