Friday, December 08, 2006

When is a story big and when not?

This is a big story. No doubt.
A military court on Thursday set the court-martial of a U.S. Marine suspected of being the ringleader in the kidnap and murder of an Iraqi grandfather for April 23.

Sgt. Lawrence G. Hutchins, 22, did not enter a plea to charges of conspiracy, murder, kidnapping and obstructing an investigation in the killing of Hashim Ibrahim Awad, 52, in the Iraqi town of Hamdania in April 2006.

He could face life in prison if convicted.

Three other Marines and a Navy medic have pleaded guilty and received sentences of 21 months or less in prison in exchange for their testimony against the others.

They have testified that Hutchins led the group of eight on an unauthorized late-night mission to kill an insurgent in which the wrong man was killed.

So is this one.
A soldier was sentenced Thursday to life in prison with the possibility of parole for conspiring to rape a 14-year-old Iraqi girl and kill her and her family.

And this one.
Fifteen-year-old Abeer Qasim Hamza was afraid, her mother confided in a neighbor.

As pretty as she was young, the girl had attracted the unwelcome attention of U.S. soldiers manning a checkpoint that the girl had to pass through almost daily in their village in the south-central city of Mahmudiyah, her mother told the neighbor.

Abeer told her mother again and again in her last days that the soldiers had made advances toward her, a neighbor, Omar Janabi, said this weekend, recounting a conversation he said he had with the girl's mother, Fakhriyah, on March 10.

Fakhriyah feared that the Americans might come for her daughter at night, at their home. She asked her neighbor if Abeer might sleep at his house, with the women there.

Janabi said he agreed.

Then, "I tried to reassure her, remove some of her fear," Janabi said. "I told her, the Americans would not do such a thing."

Abeer did not live to take up the offer of shelter.

Instead, attackers came to the girl's house the next day, apparently separating Abeer from her mother, father and young sister.

Janabi and others knowledgeable about the incident said they believed that the attackers raped Abeer in another room. Medical officials who handled the bodies also said the girl had been raped, but they did not elaborate.

Before leaving, the attackers fatally shot the four family members -- two of Abeer's brothers had been away at school -- and attempted to set Abeer's body on fire, according to Janabi, another neighbor who spoke on condition of anonymity, the mayor of Mahmudiyah and a hospital administrator with knowledge of the case.

Yes they are all separate incidences. My question is, why isn't this a big story? Because she wasn't killed? Is it because she isn't a teenager?
The conviction of a US marine for raping a Filipina was widely hailed as a victory in the country Tuesday, but the government said it was unlikely to seriously affect ties between the Philippines and its main defense ally.

Local newspapers devoted their main headlines to the court's decision to convict Lance Corporal Daniel Smith but acquit three other US marines for the rape of a 22-year-old Filipina last year.

The conviction pushed off the front pages the deadly mudflows that have left more than a thousand dead or missing and many more homeless.

The Philippine Daily Inquirer headlined its front page with "40 years in jail for Smith," and its cartoon showed a cheering Filipino over a cowering American.


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