The Army is preparing to prosecute at Joint Base Lewis-McChord an Alaska-based soldier who allegedly murdered two deaf Iraqi boys during a deployment six years ago.
Sgt. 1st Class Michael Barbera, 31, will face a mandatory life sentence if his convicted of murdering the two teenagers. He’s also accused of two counts conduct prejudicial to good order and discipline, the Army announced Friday.
Barbera was serving with the 5th Squadron of the 73rd Airborne Reconnaissance Regiment out of Fort Bragg, N.C. in Iraq’s Diyala Province in March 2007 when he allegedly killed Ahmad Khalid al-Timmimi, 15, and his brother Abbas, 14.
The killings were exposed last year by a Pittsburgh Tribune Review investigation that was built upon accounts from soldiers who served with Barbera and remained troubled by the killings years later.
The whistleblowers told the newspaper that they believed the deaths of the brothers prompted a retaliation attacks by Iraqi insurgents that killed 10 soldiers from the 82nd Airborne Division.
Barbera was a staff sergeant at the time of the incident. He was promoted since that deployment, and most recently was stationed with the 4th Brigade Combat Team, 25 Infantry Division at Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, Alaska.
Lewis-McChord has a military jail and courthouse that are among the largest in the Army. Prosecutors at the base in the past two years have won convictions in three prominent war crimes trials, including Sgt. John Russell, who killed five American military service members at Baghdad combat stress clinic; Staff Sgt. Robert Bales, who murdered 16 Afghan civilians in rampage outside of his combat outpost last year; and Staff Sgt. Calvin Gibbs, who orchestrated the killings of three Afghan civilians in 2010.