Last November an attorney for Pfc. Andrew Holmes of Boise told Citydesk that a series of photographs would exonerate his client of war crimes. Today the German news organization Der Spiegel published photographs showing Holmes and a colleague posing with an Afghan corpse.
Army documents allege Holmes and other soldiers are responsible for the deaths of three Afghan civilians in Kandahar Province in January 2010. Holmes is behind bars at Joint Base Lewis-McChord outside of Seattle, awaiting a general court martial hearing for the alleged crimes.
According to Der Spiegel, one photo shows Holmes kneeling next to a corpse, which is stretched out prone on sand and grass. The photos have been placed under a protective order by an Army judge.
A statement from the Pentagon on Sunday said the photos depict "actions repugnant to us as human beings and contrary to the standards and values of the United States Army." The statement apologized for "the distress these photos cause" and said the photos appear "in stark contrast to the discipline, professionalism and respect that have characterized our soldiers' performance during nearly 10 years of sustained operations."
"The bottom line is that we are concerned that this kind of thing jeopardizes us and our coalition forces, and hampers our relations with the Afghan people," Army spokesman Col. Thomas Collins said.
But last November, Holmes' lead defense counsel Dan Conway told Citydesk that a series of photographs would prove his client's innocence. Conway said Holmes was ordered to pose in the photographs.
"At the time of the shooting, Pfc. Holmes did not know that his team leader was staging a killing and using Holmes as an unwilling participant," Conway told Citydesk.