The suspected ringleader of a group of American soldiers accused of killing civilians in Afghanistan and snapping pictures of themselves with the corpses admits to taking fingers from the bodies as war trophies, his attorney told a courtroom on Monday.
Staff Sgt. Calvin Gibbs, 26, denies involvement in the three killings despite opening statements by his attorney confirming that Gibbs took fingers off victims and kept them or gave them to others involved, the BBC reports. Gibbs, one of five soldiers charged, faces life in prison without parole if convicted.
Three platoon members pleaded guilty in exchange for reduced sentences, but they said it was Gibbs’s idea to kill civilians while making their deaths appear to have been combat-related. During the military trial in Washington state, his attorney, Phil Stackhouse, maintained that Gibbs not only feels the killings were legitimate engagements but believes “he had been conspired against by his codefendants,” BBC reported.