Twelve U.S. soldiers are facing multiple charges stemming from attacks against civilians in Afghanistan. The charges cover many different alleged actions by the soldiers, including conspiracy to commit murder, the act of covering the crimes up, mutilating the corpses of those killed, keeping gruesome souvenirs, and the use of hashish.
The soldiers were serving in Kandahar, Afghanistan, from 2009 to 2010, as part of the 2nd Infantry Division brigade.
The investigation has not been completed at this point, but what started out as a drug abuse investigation has led to accusations of murder against five soldiers, and charges against seven others for attempting to cover up the murders.
The soldiers involved say that Staff Sgt. Calvin Gibbs instigated the murders and cover up, bullying the others into going along with him. The soldiers allegedly participated in separate attacks that ended the lives of three civilian Afghan men. Gibbs, along with four additional soldiers, is charged with throwing grenades and shooting at the civilians.
Gibbs and other soldiers are also accused of keeping finger bones, leg bones, and a tooth, from the corpses as grisly souvenirs. Spc. Michael Gagnon II, is accused of keeping a skull. Many of the accused have been charged with taking photos of the corpses.
Charges have also been filed against Spc. Corey Moore, who is believed to have stabbed a corpse, and Staff Sgt. Robert Stevens, who is accused of lying about the threat that the victims posed, in an attempt to justify the killings.
Additional charges against the soldiers include assault, for shooting at the Afghan civilians, and the failure to dispose of weapons as they should.
Drug related charges have been filed against eight of the soldiers. They were charged with the use of hashish. This group is also being charged with assault on another soldier, in an attempt to prevent him from reporting the misconduct.