THE HAGUE, Nl. – The U.S. Department of Justice handed three former U.S. soldiers over to the International Criminal Court at the Hague Friday evening. Former Army Lieutenant James Steven Patterson, Corporal Joseph Griffin, and Private Mike Slauson are scheduled to appear before the ICC Monday morning where they will face war crimes charges for acts allegedly committed during Operation Iraqi Freedom.
Chief Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court, attorney Klaus Mueller, spoke with reporters Friday afternoon, saying, “We find crimes committed during war to be particularly heinous, therefore it is our duty to see that justice is swiftly served,” he said, adding, “We have a very strong case against these three men.”
Court records allege that “on 8 July 2007 Army Lieutenant James Patterson and Private Mike Slauson were traveling in two United States Army Humvees going southbound on Saadoun Street toward Firdos Square in central Baghdad. Witnesses state both vehicles were traveling well above the posted speed limit as they approached a four-way intersection clearly marked with traffic signals. As they approached the intersection, Lieutenant Patterson and Private Slauson directed their Humvees into oncoming traffic and plowed through the intersection at excessive speeds, during which Patterson’s Humvee struck another vehicle traveling perpendicular to it, causing it to impact two other vehicles.”
The documents go on to say that despite hitting another vehicle, both Patterson and Slauson sped through the intersection without stopping. As a result four civilian vehicles were damaged and eleven people injured, including a sixty-seven year old Iraqi woman who suffered a concussion and was taken to a hospital by ambulance.
Lt. James Patterson and Pvt. Slauson are each facing three counts of war crimes. The specific charges include reckless driving, failure to stop at a stop sign, and fleeing the scene of an accident. If convicted, both men could serve up to thirty days in jail. “We intend to prosecute them to the fullest extent of the law and provide the Iraqi people with the justice they so desperately seek,” Mueller said.
Additionally, Corporal Joseph Griffin is facing one count, with the charge of littering. Court documents allege “Griffin threw a plastic bag containing roughly a dozen empty water bottles onto the roadside from the turret of an M1 Abrams tank he was riding in.” If convicted he will be required to pay a fine of $500 to the Iraqi Ministry of Interior.