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Soldier says sergeant didn’t plant evidence near Afghan corpse

Post by Adam Ashton / The News Tribune on June 23, 2011 at 12:07 pm |
June 23, 2011 12:07 pm

Several of Staff Sgt. David Bram’s platoon mates testifying over the past two days contradicted allegations that he plotted to kill Afghan civilians during a deployment last year and kept a “drop weapon” to cover up suspicious incidents.

They’ve characterized him as an exceptional squad leader who cared for the soldiers he commanded.

“He was the kind of leader guys just wanted to follow,” said Lt. Stefan Moye.

Bram’s in court for the second day of a pretrial hearing. He’s accused of joining discussions about murdering civilians, planting evidence near a corpse and abusing Afghan detainees. Five of Bram’s platoon mates from the 5th Brigade, 2nd Infantry Division allegedly murdered three Afghans last year during patrols outside of Forward Operating Base Ramrod.

Bram’s defense attorney today called a witness who directly contradicted the charge that Bram dropped evidence near a corpse to cover up a questionable killing. That incident unfolded in January 2010 when soldiers in Bram’s platoon shot an Afghan standing on a roadside who refused to obey their commands.

The killing was considered legitimate because the soldiers followed their proper escalation of force  guidelines. A captain was concerned that the victim was not a threat and soldiers spent two hours looking for evidence to justify the killing, two soldiers testified yesterday. They alleged that Bram dropped a magazine from an AK-47 near the corpse, giving the platoon evidence to substantiate the shooting.

But today, Spc. Brandon Rodriguez said he accompanied Bram for the entirety of the search around the corpse. Rodiguez said Bram definitely did not plant the magazine. Rodriguez said he saw Bram spot the magazine and report it to their platoon mates.

Bram’s pretrial hearing is expected to conclude today with testimony from Capt. Roman Ligsay, who led Bram’s platoon during most of its deployment last year. This is to be Ligsay’s first testimony in court related to the killings that allegedly took place under his command.

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