Subject:  U.S. Sergeant Gets Life in Murder of Kosovo Girl
Sent: 2 August 2000
From: Network of East-West Women <>

August 2, 2000
New York Times
U.S. Sergeant Gets Life in Murder of Kosovo Girl

BERLIN, Aug. 1 -- A United States military court in Germany sentenced an American soldier today to life in prison without parole for the murder of an 11-year-old Kosovo Albanian girl.

The soldier, Staff Sgt. Frank J. Ronghi, 36, who was sent to Kosovo last summer with the Third Battalion of the 504th Parachute Infantry, pleaded guilty last week to sodomizing and murdering the young girl, Merita Shabiu, while he was on peacekeeping duty in Kosovo.

His sentence is the most severe available to an American military court holding a trial in Germany, where the death penalty does not exist. It was handed down after the girl's father and mother had provided moving testimony about their own suffering and their daughter's.

"My daughter welcomed the peacekeepers," the father, Hamdi Shabiu, said.

"She was very happy because she thought they had come to protect us. How do you do this to someone? He massacred my daughter."

Her bruised and slashed body was found in the snow on Jan. 13 outside Vitina, where Sergeant Ronghi's company was based. Sergeant Ronghi has said he sodomized and murdered Merita in an abandoned building in Vitina, before stuffing her body in a plastic bag and dumping it in the woods.

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