Convicted US war criminal Steven Green dead in 'suicide'

Former 101st Airborne Division Pfc Steven Dale Green is escorted to the courthouse on the third day of his trial 29 April 2009 Steven Dale Green was the only one of the four men convicted in connection with the rape and murders to serve time in civilian prison

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The ringleader of a group of US soldiers who raped an Iraqi girl and murdered her and her family has been found dead in an apparent suicide.

Steven Dale Green, 28, was found on Saturday in his cell at a federal prison in Arizona where he was serving multiple life sentences.

In 2006 he raped Abeer Qassim al-Janabi, 14, before killing her and set her body on fire.

The crime came to light after Green was discharged from the military.

He was the first ex-soldier charged and convicted under the Military Extraterritorial Jurisdiction Act, which gave US civilian courts jurisdiction over crimes committed overseas.

The law was designed to prosecute military contractors employed in wartime situations.

Federal Bureau of Prisons spokesman John Stahley said Green's death was being investigated as a suicide.

'Made to pay'

In March 2006, Green was deployed to Mahmudiya, 30km (20 miles) south of Baghdad, as a private in the elite 101st Airborne Division.

He and three other soldiers - Jesse Spielman, Paul Cortez and James Barker - went to the home of the al-Janabi family near a traffic checkpoint where they were stationed.

Green shot and killed the mother, father and a five-year-old daughter of the family. He then raped the 14-year-old girl before shooting her. Her body was set on fire.

He was discharged from the Army after serving only 11 months, due to a "personality disorder", according to court records. Green was arrested in June 2006 and convicted and sentenced in 2009.

Spielman, Cortez and Barker were tried in a military court and are serving lengthy sentences in a military prison at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, technically eligible for parole in 2015.

Green later told the Associated Press news agency he regretted his actions but was frustrated by the fact he was not eligible for parole.

"I was made to pay for all the war crimes. I'm the only one here in federal prison," Green said in an October 2013 interview. "I'm not a victim, but I haven't been treated fairly."

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