CAMP ARIFJAN, Kuwait—A U.S. military investigating officer recommended Tuesday that a National Guard soldier be court-martialed for killing two of his superiors in Iraq in June.
Col. Patrick Reinert said he found “reasonable cause” to believe that Staff Sgt. Alberto B. Martinez of Troy, N.Y., used an anti-personnel mine and three grenades to kill a captain and a lieutenant in a “personal vendetta.”
The killing of Capt. Philip Esposito and Lt. Louis E. Allen in an explosion at a base near the central Iraqi city of Tikrit is believed to be first case of an American soldier in Iraq accused of killing his superiors.
Reinert said he also found aggravating factors that could allow for capital punishment.
During Monday’s session, one witness, Capt. Carl Prober, said Martinez told him twice that he hated Esposito—once in September 2004 and again in May. In the second instance, Martinez said “specifically I hate (Esposito) and I’m going to frag (him),” Prober testified. “Frag” is a Vietnam War term for soldiers killing their superiors.
Prober did not say why Martinez said he hated Esposito.
The Tikrit case is the second case during the Iraq war in which a U.S. soldier has been charged with killing his comrades.
In April, a sergeant in the Army’s 101st Airborne Division, Hasan Akbar, was convicted of murder and attempted murder for a grenade and rifle attack that killed two officers and wounded 14 soldiers in Kuwait in 2003 during the opening days of the war.
Akbar, 34, a Muslim, told investigators he staged the attack because he was upset that American troops would kill fellow Muslims. He was condemned to death.