Court Martial

JOINT BASE LEWIS-MCCHORD, September 23, 2011 (AFP) – A third member of an alleged rogue US army unit in Afghanistan pleaded guilty Thursday in a plea deal over shock killings of local civilians that embarrassed the US army. Private First Class Andrew Holmes was accused of being a member of a five-person “kill team” implicated in the slaying of three Afghans while stationed in Afghanistan’s southern Kandahar province in January 2010.

After negotiations, Holmes pleaded guilty to murder, but not to premeditated murder, during a court-martial hearing at Joint Base Lewis-McChord near Tacoma, in the western state of Washington. He was expected to be sentenced on Friday.

Speaking in a clear voice, the 21-year-old from Boise, Idaho also pleaded guilty to two other offenses: possessing a finger harvested from an Afghan corpse and smoking marijuana in hashish form while deployed.

As part of the agreement, prosecutors dismissed three charges, including the two major charges of premeditated murder and conspiracy. After entering his pleas, Holmes read a prepared statement explaining his actions on January 15, 2010 and answered questions about the incident from the presiding judge Kwasi Hawks.

According to Holmes, the