World » Americas
Author`s name Dmitriy Sudakov

George W. Bush makes history with his affirmation of Ronald A. Gray’s death sentence

The US president gave his agreement to execute a military man for the first time in 50 years. George W. Bush approved the death sentence of Private Ronald A. Gray, convicted of four counts of murder and eight counts of rape.

Court martial sentenced Private Ronald Gray to death penalty in 1988 for two murders, an attempted murder and three rapes, which the serviceman committed in North Carolina where he served. His victims were two military women and one civil woman. Civil courts of the state had previously sentenced Gray to several life terms for two other murders and five rapes.

The law of the United States stipulates the president’s affirmation of the sentence if it is court martial that brings down a death sentence against a serviceman. Thus, George W. Bush became the first US president in 50 years to have affirmed the execution of a military man.

"While approving a sentence of death for a member of our armed services is a serious and difficult decision for a commander in chief, the president believes the facts of this case leave no doubt that the sentence is just and warranted," White House press secretary Dana Perino said.

The history of the US Army knows many incidents when courts martial brought down death sentences against military men. This was especially noticeable during the US-led campaign in Iraq. There was quite a number of incidents, when US military men were put on trial for their actions against Iraqi civilians. US peacemakers raped women and children, humiliated and tortured unarmed men.

Corporal Joshua Belile of the United States Marine Corps made headlines of many newspapers in the world with his song which he wrote about a fictitious encounter with a family of Iraqi insurgents.

A video of Belile performing the song was posted anonymously on YouTube.com in March 2006. It sparked controversy at a time when Marines were already facing public scrutiny over allegations of a civilian massacre at Haditha. YouTube subsequently removed the video from the site, rejecting any further uploaded versions as violating the site's terms of use.

In the song, the Marine protagonist meets an Iraqi girl who convinces him to follow her to her house. After arriving, the Marine is confronted by the Iraqi girl's father and brother who are armed with AK-47 rifles. The Marine then uses the girl's younger sister as a human shield. The father and brother attack, killing the sister as the Marine laughs maniacally. The Marine then hides behind a TV, returns fire, and kills the father and brother. Cheers and clapping from the unseen audience can be heard in the background of the video.

Belile later said the song was meant only as a joke based on lines from the film Team America: World Police, and apologized to those who were offended by its content. The performance, according to Belile, was at Al Asad airbase in Iraq, where Belile's helicopter gunship unit was posted until March 2006. In the video, Belile is wearing parts of a uniform, although not enough to characterize him as "in uniform" as no nameplate or national markings are visible. The US military, like many others, allows service members and military employees to pursue their own interests when not in uniform.

He was later exonerated of all wrongdoing.

Dwight Eisenhower was the last president before George W. Bush who approved the death penalty of a military man in 1957.

Source: agencies

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