Kentucky — A U.S. soldier was sentenced to 100 years in prison Thursday for the gang rape and murder of an Iraqi girl and the killing of her family last year.
Sgt. Paul E. Cortez, 24, also was given a dishonorable discharge. He will be eligible for parole in 10 years under the terms of his plea agreement.
Cortez, of Barstow, Calif., pleaded guilty this week to four counts of felony murder, rape and conspiracy to rape in a case considered among the worst atrocities by U.S. military personnel in Iraq.
In his plea agreement, he said he conspired with three other soldiers from the Fort Campbell-based 101st Airborne Division to rape 14-year-old Abeer Qassim al-Janabi. The girl, her parents and a younger sister were killed.
Earlier Thursday, tears rolled down Cortez's face as he apologized for the rape and murders. He said he could not explain why he took part.
"I still don't have an answer," Cortez told the judge. "I don't know why. I wish I hadn't. The lives of four innocent people were taken. I want to apologize for all of the pain and suffering I have caused the al-Janabi family."