Iraq war vet claims atrocities by U.S. soldiers

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Saturday, April 1, 2006 Joshua Key, a 27-year-old U.S. war deserter, alleged to a Canadian Immigration and Refugee Board yesterday that American soldiers had been kicking the severed head of an Iraqi in Ramadi "like a soccer ball."

"I couldn't believe someone could do that to a human being," said Key, who is the first U.S. army deserter to make application for refugee status after serving in Iraq.

The U.S. Army's attitude in Iraq was "just shoot and ask questions later," according to Key. He said, "It's like people could kill if they just wanted to. Everything is justified."

Key also claimed to have witnessed a "trigger happy" platoon squad sergeant shooting part of an unarmed Iraqi man's foot off after the man had raised his foot as a sign of disrespect.

There are five members of the U.S. armed forces requesting asylum in Canada but Key is the only applicant who has combat experience in Iraq, said Key's lawyer, Jeffry House. "He has boots-on-the-ground experience about what the actual conduct of the war in Iraq is," House said.

Key also said at the hearing; "(Iraqis) are just normal people. They're farmers, mothers, fathers; just like us, just like my home country. I didn't see why we was there."

Key now works as a welder in British Columbia where he and his wife have four children under six years of age.

There were no representations made at this hearing to dispute the claims made by Key; but Key also did not provide any proof to substantiate his allegations.