A United States soldier, who admitted cutting and keeping fingers from corpses as war trophies, has been sentenced to life by a military court in Washington for being the leader of a thrill team that killed three Afghan civilians for fun.
A five-member military panel found Staff Sergeant Calvin Gibbs guilty at the end of a week-long court martial on Thursday, and said he should serve at least 10 years behind bars before being eligible for parole.
Gibbs was convicted on 15 counts in all, including three of premeditated murder for his role in three killings in Kandahar province during routine patrols between January and May last year.
Gibbs pleaded not guilty, even though his other colleagues accused him of masterminding the killing of three unarmed Afghan civilians.
It is alleged that Gibbs gave orders to open fire on the civilian at the same time Gibbs threw a hand grenade at the victim.
"He pulled out one of his grenades, an American grenade, you know, popped it, throws it, tells me where to go to whack this guy, kill this guy, kill this guy," Jermey Morlock, one of the soldiers, told the investigators.
"Sergeant Gibbs had a charisma, he had a 'follow me' personality, but it was all a bunch of crap. He had his own mission: murder and depravity," prosecutor Major Robert Stelle said in the closing argument.
Gibbs's defence attorney Phillip Stackhouse argued that the other witnesses had framed Gibbs for the deaths.