A U.S. officer accused of encouraging his troops to kill three Afghan civilians has been convicted of murder, conspiracy and other charges in one of the most gruesome cases involving American troops in the Afghan war.
Sergeant Calvin Gibbs was sentenced to life in prison after being convicted on November 10 at his court martial in the United States.
He was the highest ranking of five soldiers charged with the deaths of the unarmed Afghan men during patrols in Kandahar province in early 2010.
Major Robert Stelle, the military prosecutor in the case, says the investigation into Gibbs's 5th Stryker Brigade unit had uncovered a platoon that was "out of control."
Gibbs, 26, admitted cutting fingers off corpses and yanking out a victim's tooth to keep as war trophies.
According to the BBC, Gibbs said he kept the fingers of the dead Afghans because he was "disassociated" during combat and claimed it was "like keeping the antlers off a deer you'd shoot".
Nonetheless, he insisted he wasn't involved in two of the killings, and said he merely returned fire in the other.
Three of the co-defendants pleaded guilty, and two of them testified against Gibbs -- portraying him as an imposing, bloodthirsty field leader.
Gibbs's lawyer insisted they conspired to blame him for what they had done.
compiled from agency reports