John Jodka

15.04.2016 ( Last modified: 14.06.2016 )
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facts

John J. Jodka was born in April 1986. He is from Encinitas, California, United States of America. He graduated from San Dieguito Academy in 2004 and joined the United States of America Marine Corps in May 2005.

In early 2006, Jodka was deployed to Iraq and was part of the 3rd Battalion, 5th Regiment’s Kilo Company.

On 26 April 2006, Jokda, together with seven other members of the 3rd Battalion, 5th Regiment’s Kilo Company went on patrol for a suspected insurgent in Hamdania, a city west of Baghdad, Iraq. The other US marines were Sergeant Lawrence G. Hutchins, Marine Corporal Trent D. Thomas, Lance Corporal Tyler A. Jackson, Lance Corporal Jerry E. Shumate Jr., Lance Corporal Robert B. Pennington, Corporal Marshall L. Magincalda and Navy Hospital Corpsman 3rd Class Melson J. Bacos. It was alleged that after the US marines were unable to locate the suspected insurgent, they entered a house neighbouring the suspected insurgent and abducted Iraqi civilian, Hashim Ibrahim Awad. It was alleged that the US marines then took Awad to a roadside hole, forced him to the ground, bound his hands and feet and then shot and killed him. The US marines then allegedly placed an AK-47 assault rifle and a shovel near Awad’s body. It was alleged that the US marines did this in an attempt to demonstrate that Awad was an insurgent and that he had been planting a roadside bomb.

On 1 May 2006, Iraqis from Hamdania brought the death of Awad to the attention of the US marine leadership in Iraq. On 24 May 2006, the Naval Criminal Investigative Service was requested by the US marine leadership in Iraq to proceed with a criminal investigation into the events that took place in Hamdania on 26 April 2006.

On 21 June 2006, Jodka was charged with murder, kidnapping, conspiracy to obstruct justice, larceny and providing false official statements in connection with the events that took place on 26 April 2006. He was alleged to have fired his M-249 automatic machine gun at Awad and later providing false information to investigators about the incident. Jodka was charged together with the seven other members of the 3rd Battalion, 5th Regiment’s Kilo Company.

legal procedure

On 21 June 2006, Jodka was charged with murder, kidnapping, conspiracy to obstruct justice, larceny and providing false official statements in connection with the events that took place on 26 April 2006. He was alleged to have fired his M-249 automatic machine gun at Awad and later providing false information to investigators about the incident. Jodka was charged together with the seven other members of the 3rd Battalion, 5th Regiment’s Kilo Company.

On 30 August 2006, Jodka faced a military hearing under Article 32 of the Uniform Code of Military Justice. This resulted in a recommendation from Lieutenant General James Mattis that Jodka face a general court-martial.

On 26 October 2006, Jodka entered a guilty plea for the charges of aggravated assault and conspiracy to obstruct justice. All other charges were dropped. This was agreed in a plea agreement entered into with Lieutenant General Mattis.

On 15 November 2006, Lieutenant Colonel David Jones sentenced Jodka to 18 months in custody (with credit for the six months already served) and a general discharge from the Marine Corps. This was in accordance with the plea agreement reached with Lieutenant General Mattis.

context

The Iraqi special tribunal is a hybrid tribunal created on the 10th December 2003 in Bagdad by the coalition provisional authorities which were government established after the invasion of Iraq in 2003. The mission of this tribunal is to judge acts of genocide and crimes against humanity as well as war crimes committed between 17 July 1968 and the 1st May 2003, the period covering the political regime of the Baas party. It is therefore aimed specifically at crimes committed by Iraqis in the aforementioned period notably those committed during the war against Iran (1980 – 1988) and the invasion of Kuwait (1990-1991).

The Iraqi special tribunal was created in the context of the Iraq war (also known as the Gulf war) that began on the 20th March 2003 by operation “Iraqi Freedom.” The operation involved the invasion of Iraq by the coalition. It was conducted by the United States, the United Kingdom and the international coalition in order to overthrow the Baas party of Saddam Hussain. The Baas party originating in Damascus in 1947 came to power in Iraq in 1963 but it was only due to a coup of 17th July 1968 that it definitively seized power until 2003. When Saddam Hussein came to power on the 16th July 1979 the party changed significantly and militarised itself. By organising itself into various cells throughout the country the party became strongly resistant in the face of hardship. The United States have been the leaders of the war in Iraq and many reasons for the war have been officially cited by the government of G.W Bush; the fight against terrorism, the elimination of weapons of mass destruction that Iraq was supposed to hold; the arrest of Saddam Hussein, to mention only the main ones. After a rapid defeat of the Iraqi army at the end of April 2003 and the capture of Saddam Hussein, the coalition and Iraq tried to establish a transitional democratic government representing all the Iraqi communities. The coalition also aimed to try members of the Baas party that had been captured.

In close collaboration with the American department of justice to which he reports directly, Paul Bremer, (Iraqi second civil administrator) established by decree the statute of the Special Iraqi tribunal on the 10th December 2003. The United States have awarded more than $100 million to ensure the “construction of the courtroom, conduct exhumations, study the documents seized, the preparation of evidence and the training of the tribunal’s members”.

The statute of the tribunal is a mix of two existing forms of procedure, inspired strongly by American adversarial law as well as Egyptian law which is essentially inquisitorial. If the statute is deemed to be insufficient it explicitly states that the Iraqi penal code of 1971 is to be used. The statute of the tribunal introduced alongside the Iraqi penal legislation a number of crimes taken from statutes of other international criminal courts in order to incriminate the former dictator Saddam Hussein and other members of the regime, namely genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes. Furthermore, each time that one of these crimes does not have a corresponding match in the Iraqi penal order, the statute authorises the tribunal judges themselves to determine the sentence taking into account the gravity of the crime, the individual characteristics of the accused and international jurisprudence. With regards to its composition, the Iraqi special tribunal consists of 20 attorneys contracted for 3 years, 3 chambers composed of 9 permanent judges appointed for 5 years, a court of appeal composing of 9 judges and 20 judges appointed for 3 years. It is formed solely of Iraqi judges of which a certain number have denounced from the beginning the pressure exerted by the provisional government. Some judges have been the victims of threats, of removal and even of assassination.

Whilst being discredited from the beginning as rendering winners justice, the Iraqi special tribunal had the means to quickly realise its central objective, that of judging the ex head of state Saddam Hussein as well as the main representatives of the Baas regime. In addition to genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes, the tribunal also had jurisdiction to try cases relating to the manipulation of judges, squandering national resources and the use of the Iraqi army against another Arab state. All of these charges were on the indictment for the first trial.

The first trial which took place in front of the tribunal was the trial of Saddam Hussein judged alongside seven of his lieutenants on the 19th October 2003. There were doubts concerning the fairness of the trial in regard to the conditions under which the trial began. Several Human Rights organisations one being Human Rights Watch have condemned technical and financial limits placed on the defence which risked hindering their work in comparison with the support received by the prosecution. Another issue which was the subject of controversy was the re-establishment of the death penalty on the 30th June 2004, which was abolished in 2003 by Paul Bremer. Despite the position today in international law being clearly abolitionist, several death sentences were passed early on culminating with the hanging of Saddam Hussein in December 2006 which was voluntarily made public. After said hanging the tribunal has continued and continues today to prosecute the former members of the Baas government.

At present, the Iraqi special tribunal is still evolving in the context of a political crises and repeated attacks. The execution on 25 January 2010 of “Chemical Ali”, Saddam Hussein’s cousin seems to have revived the movements against religious minorities present in Iraq.