A U.S. soldier has been convicted on charges involving the random murders of three unarmed Afghan civilians last year.
Staff Sergeant Calvin Gibbs was found guilty Thursday by a military jury after a weeklong court martial at an Army post in Washington state. The 26-year-old soldier was sentenced to life in prison, but is eligible for parole after serving at least eight years.
Prosecutors said Gibbs led a five-member rogue U.S. army unit, described as a “kill team.” The charges against him ranged from murder to chopping fingers off victims to keep as trophies.
His victims included a 15-year-old unarmed boy — picked at random in a field and shot. Soldiers posed with the boy’s body for photos.
Gibbs pled not guilty, while three other members of the unit admitted guilt and received more lenient sentences. Two of them testified against him during the court martial, while the fifth soldier is awaiting trial.
The atrocities were exposed during a probe of drug abuse and other offenses in Gibbs’ 5th Stryker Brigade unit. Gibbs was found guilty of beating a fellow soldier who reported the drug use to his superiors.
The crimes are considered among the worst atrocities during the decade-long war in Afghanistan.