Saturday, September 25, 2010

Can Soldiers Face the Death Penalty for Crimes Against Civilians?

\his article from the Foreign Poicy website speaks to the US context, where members of the US military can be and have been sentenced to death for crimes against the civlian populace of the US and of other nations. The Canadian situation is different, since this country does not have the death penalty. The last Canadian soldier to have been executed was Private Harold Pringle, executed in 1945 for murder.

Can Soldiers Be Sentenced to Death for Killing Civilians?
Yes, but they probably won't be executed.
BY JOSHUA E. KEATING, Sept 21, 2010

The Washington Post reported on Sunday that five U.S. service members have been charged with the premeditated murder of three Afghan civilians earlier this year. In addition to the coldblooded murders, the five allegedly kept photos and grisly souvenirs of the bodies and intimidated a fellow soldier who threatened to report them. Preliminary hearings in military court for the accused -- who deny the charges -- will begin in a few weeks. If convicted, could they be sentenced to death?

Yes, but it could take a long time for the sentence to be carried out. The Uniform Code of Military Justice, which applies to all U.S. military service members worldwide, allows for both the death penalty and life imprisonment in cases of murder, no matter the nationality of the victim. The mandated method of execution is lethal injection.

An estimated 465 U.S. soldiers have been executed since the Civil War -- most for desertion or mutiny -- though no death sentences have been carried out since 1961. The practice was found unconstitutional by a military appeals court in 1983, but reinstated one year later by President Ronald Reagan with much stricter sentencing guidelines. Technically, there are 15 offenses for which service members can be executed, but some of these, like desertion and disobeying orders, apply only during wartime.

Read the whole story here.

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Mad Padre

Mad Padre
Opinions expressed within are in no way the responsibility of anyone's employers or facilitating agencies and should by rights be taken as nothing more than one person's notional musings, attempted witticisms, and prayerful posturings.


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