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Army Charges Soldier In 2007 Killing Of Deaf Boys In Iraq

A U.S. Army Sergeant will be transferred to Joint Base Lewis-McChord to face charges he murdered two unarmed, deaf boys in Iraq in 2007.

Sgt. Michael Barbera is charged with two counts of premeditated murder.

The charges stem from the March 6, 2007 killings of two boys northeast of Baghdad. According to a 2012 story in the Pittsburgh Tribune, Barbera shot two brothers ages 14 and 15 as they tended cattle. Both were deaf.

Minutes later, Barbera is said to have ordered the killing of another deaf boy, a cousin of the brothers. Barbera’s fellow soldiers told the newspaper they felt the killings were unjustified.

But instead of being put on trial, Barbera was reprimanded and then promoted, according to the Pittsburgh Tribune.

It’s unclear why he’s being charged now, more than six years later. Or why his case has been assigned to Joint Base Lewis McChord. Prosecutors there do have experience with war crimes cases. They handled the 2010 “kill team” case involving soldiers who murdered unarmed Afghan civilians. And more recently the case of Staff Sgt. Robert Bales who massacred 17 Afghan civilians last year.

Barbera was never assigned to Joint Base Lewis McChord.

Since January 2004, Austin Jenkins has been the Olympia-based political reporter for the Northwest News Network. In that position, Austin covers Northwest politics and public policy, as well as the Washington State Legislature. You can also see Austin on television as host of TVW's (the C–SPAN of Washington State) Emmy-nominated public affairs program "Inside Olympia."