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WASHINGTON – Twelve U.S. soldiers face a variety of charges in what military authorities believe was a conspiracy to murder Afghan civilians and cover it up, along with charges they used hashish, mutilated corpses and kept grisly souvenirs.
Five soldiers face murder charges, while seven others are charged with participating in a coverup. All of the men were members of a 2nd Infantry Division brigade operating near Kandahar in southern Afghanistan in 2009 and 2010.
According to the military documents, Staff Sgt. Calvin Gibbs and four other soldiers were involved in throwing grenades at civilians and then shooting them in separate incidents. Three Afghan men died.
Authorities allege Gibbs kept finger bones, leg bones and a tooth from Afghan corpses. Another soldier, Spc. Michael Gagnon II, allegedly kept a skull from a corpse, according to charging documents. Several soldiers are charged with taking pictures of the corpses, and one – Spc. Corey Moore – with stabbing a corpse.
Staff Sgt. Robert Stevens is charged with lying to investigators about the deaths, saying the civilians posed a threat.
Other soldiers are charged with assaulting Afghan civilians by shooting at them, and several soldiers face charges of failing to properly account for and dispose of weapons.
Eight of the soldiers also are charged with using hashish and beating a junior soldier in an attempt to stop him from reporting them for misconduct, including hashish use.
Gibbs is also charged with telling another soldier to lie about the incidents including the platoon’s involvement in illegal drug use. He is alleged to have told Spc. Adam Winfield, “I’m going to send you home by dropping a tow bar on you,” if Winfield revealed information to investigators.
Winfield is also charged with murder and conspiracy to commit murder in this case.
Five soldiers were originally arrested in June and seven others were charged last month. The documents released by the Army this week are the most detailed disclosure of what the men are alleged to have done.
The five facing murder charges are Gibbs, of Billings, Montana; Pfc. Andrew Holmes of Boise, Idaho; Winfield, of Cape Coral, Florida; Spc. Michael Wagnon, of Las Vegas, Nevada; and Spc. Jeremy Morlock of Wasilla, Alaska. The five are from the 5th Stryker Brigade.
Holmes is accused of killing Afghan civilian Gul Mudin in January with a grenade and rifle. Winfield is accused of killing civilian Mullah Adahdad in May in a similar manner, and Wagnon is accused of shooting to death Marach Agha in February. Morlock and Gibbs each were charged with three counts of murder and one count of assault involving the same victims as in the cases against Holmes, Wagnon and Winfield.
Stevens and Pfc. Ashton Moore are charged with conspiracy to commit aggravated assault with a dangerous weapon, and Sgt. Darren Jones is charged with conspiracy to commit assault and battery and conspiracy to commit aggravated assault with a dangerous weapon.
Cpl. Emmitt R. Quintal, Staff Sgt. David Bram, Spc. Adam Kelly and Spc. Corey Moore are charged with conspiracy to commit assault and battery.
Stevens is charged with wrongfully and wantonly engaging in conduct likely to cause death or bodily harm to other soldiers, and Jones, Quintal, Bram, Kelley and Corey Moore are charged with unlawfully striking another