US Afghan ‘kill team’ head jailed for life


The ringleader of a rogue US army unit responsible for “thrill kills” of Afghan civilians was sentenced to life behind bars Thursday. But a five-person military panel said Staff Sergeant Calvin Gibbs – who was found guilty at the end of a week-long court martial – would be eligible for parole after serving at least 10 years.
Gibbs was found guilty of 15 counts in all, including three charges of premeditated murder for his role in three so-called “thrill kills” in southern Afghanistan between January and May last year. The prosecution portrayed Gibbs as the ringleader of the rogue unit, which also harvested body parts from the victims as grisly war trophies.
Three members of the unit have already pleaded guilty in a scandal that has threatened embarrassment for the US military on the scale of the Abu Ghraib prison abuse in Iraq disclosed in 2004.
Each of the convictions for murder carried a minimum sentence of life in prison, but his defense team successfully managed to avoid life without the possibility of parole.