The Kill Company Case
a tragic part of Iraq's history
The Iraq war
The Iraq war started March 20, 2003, when forces led by the United Stated invaded the country of Iraq, and continued until Barak Obama officially declared peace on August 31, 2010. The Iraq war has been the center of a heated, global debate due to its devastating impact on civilians. One company, called the Charlie Company, is known for its killings, resulting in the nickname “The Kill Company”. Why is it so, that this controversial case was not heard by the International Criminal Court (ICC)?
Breaches of the International Humanitarian Law (IHL)
I believe it is obvious the United States Army, Charlie Company/ “Kill Company” broke several of the seven principles of IHL during the Iraq war. For example, three unarmed detainees were killed during Objective Murray. This is a breach of principle 2, stating: “It is forbidden to kill or injure an enemy who surrender or who is hors de combat”.
Convictions based on confessions
Enforcing the IHL is, first and foremost, a national responsibility. Some of the Kill Company’s members were convicted by courts in the United States. Participants in Objective Murray, Specialist Hunsaker and Private First Class Corey Clagett, pleaded guilty to murder. Infantryman Graber pleaded guilty to aggravated assault.
Confusion and misunderstandings make it hard to judge
Before Kill Company’s Operation Iron Triangle on May 9, 2006, misunderstandings arose among leaders and soldiers about the aim of the mission. The commandor, Lieutenant Michael Horne, could not grasp the Army’s detailed, continuously changing and secret Rules of Engagement (R.O.E) and he was confused about the proceedings. After shooting at civilians, Horne was investigated but only given a reprimand.
Colonel Michael Dane Steele was investigated but not convicted in the US. He had technically followed the Army’s Rules of Engagement (R.O.E); however his interpretation of the rules and diffuse orders required the Army to reprimand him.
Staff sergeant Girouard was convicted of negligent homicide during Objective Murray, in the US. I believe this verdict appears to be a legal compromise since the jury was uncertain about whether he gave others permission to kill the detainees, or if they were ordered killed. Girouard is appealing his case.
ICC not needed in this case
The ICC only tries individuals if the state concerned does not, and in this case Hunsaker, Clagett, Graber and Girouard had already been investigated and tried by the US. Investigations were held after Horne’s shooting incident and Steele’s suspicious interpretations of the R.O.E; however they were only reprimanded. If this means they were not tried in a court, a State Party of the ICC could initiate the court to run the case.