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Iraq Transition

Gag requested in Iraq rape-murder case

Defense wants to silence everyone, including the president


Justice Department

(CNN) -- Defense attorneys for a former U.S. soldier charged with raping and killing a young Iraqi female and murdering her family requested a gag order in the case -- applying all the way up to President Bush.

"This case has received prominent and often sensational coverage in virtually all print, electronic and Internet news media in the world," said the motion filed Tuesday in federal court in Louisville, Kentucky.

Public defenders Scott Wendelsdorf and Patrick Bouldin filed the papers on behalf of former Pfc. Steven D. Green.

The court papers cited a Thursday interview of Bush on CNN's "Larry King Live," in which the president referred to the alleged incident as a "despicable crime" and offered an opinion that Green was "staining the image, the honorable image of the United States military."

In addition, the motion said Gen. Peter Pace, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, was quoted in the Los Angeles Times as saying the alleged incident was "totally unacceptable."

"Clearly, the publicity and public passions surrounding this case present the 'clear and imminent danger to the fair administration of justice,' " the motion said.

It requested that the gag order cover Bush, Attorney General Alberto Gonzales and Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, as well as their employees. It also would apply to participants in the trial, attorneys, members of civilian or military law enforcement, and investigators.

Prosecutors have until July 25 to file their responses to the request, according to a court clerk.

Green and four active-duty soldiers are charged with murder and rape in the March incident. Another soldier was charged with failing to report the incident, but was not accused of participating. (Full story)

Green, 21, is charged in a civilian court because he is a former soldier; he was honorably discharged from the Army before the alleged incident because of a "personality disorder." The others are charged under the Uniform Code of Military Justice.

A Justice Department affidavit says Green and others planned to rape the young woman, who lived near the Mahmoudiya checkpoint they manned. Three soldiers allegedly accompanied Green into the house, and another was told to monitor the radio while the assault took place, the affidavit said.

The document said Green shot the woman's relatives, including a girl of about 5, then raped and fatally shot the woman. Soldiers are quoted in the affidavit as telling authorities that Green and his companions then set the family's house on fire, threw an AK-47 rifle used in the killings into a canal, and burned their bloodstained clothing.

The identification card and death certificate of the alleged rape victim indicated she was 14 years old at the time, but the affidavit estimated her age at about 25, while the U.S. military said she was 20.

A video posted Monday on Islamic Web sites purportedly showed the bodies of two U.S. soldiers kidnapped and killed last month in Yusufiya. The video, which cannot be independently authenticated by CNN, came with a statement saying it was revenge "for our sister who was dishonored by one of the soldiers of the same brigade that these two soldiers belonged to."

Green and the other defendants were from the 502nd Parachute Infantry Regiment of the 101st Airborne Division. The two soldiers who were kidnapped and killed were also members of that regiment.

In a statement Tuesday, the U.S. military condemned the video "in the strongest of terms." (Full story)

In a second motion filed Tuesday, Green's attorneys asked that authorities "properly maintain and preserve" evidence in the case.

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