Evergreen native facing charges in Iraq

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Bronze Star recipient called ‘patriot,’ ‘warrior’

By Vicky Gits

A local man who joined the Army after graduating from high school, with dreams of becoming a career officer, is being accused of ordering Iraqi police officers to kill two civilians.

Carl Bjork, 28, who was awarded a Bronze Star for his heroism overseas, attended Evergreen High School from 1995 to 1997 before transferring to Wentworth Military Academy in Lexington, Mo. He graduated from CU in 2004 and immediately went into the Army.

“He’s a patriot. He’s a warrior. He absolutely loves the army,” said his father, Peter Bjork, an attorney in Denver who has lived in Evergreen for 19 years. “His goal was to become a career officer.”

Carl Bjork was deployed in Iraq from January 2006 to April 2007.

Peter Bjork said the work was dangerous, but his son felt he was doing what he was meant to do. “He’s a strong man. He’s a stronger man than I am,” Bjork said.

An outdoorsman who loves adventure, Carl Bjork is a golfer and a runner. He competed twice in the New Mexico Bataan Memorial Marathon, which involves running 26 miles in full uniform with a pack and boots on.

“What’s even worse is the investigation has been completed, and now they decide to drag him back to Baghdad to be alone before Christmas,” Peter Bjork said.

After the incident allegedly took place in 2006, Bjork was sent back to the United States to work a desk job. He recently was sent back to Iraq to work as a bodyguard for USO entertainers in Baghdad.

“Our lawyer believes they are looking for a get-out-of-jail-free card. They are trying to point the finger at someone else,” Peter Bjork said.

The family has retained Victor Kelley, a military lawyer based in Birmingham, Ala. Kelley attended a hearing on the matter in Baghdad in November. The hearing is like a grand jury hearing in the U.S., except the defendant and his lawyer can be there, Kelley said.

Kelley told the Canyon Courier there is no evidence Bjork gave any orders to kill the men in question.

“There was no order given. There was no evidence that happened. The charges have been proffered. It’s like a complaint,” Kelley said.

“There is evidence the four people (in jail) are responsible. The thing that precipitated this was the U.S. arrested the Iraqi chief of police (Ibrahim Hamid Jaza),” Kelley said.

“As a result of him being arrested, (the prisoners) started pointing the finger … . We’ve got good evidence the former chief had a motive in seeing these people killed. (We think) they abducted the police chief’s brother and had him publicly beheaded,” Kelley said.

Kelley said it’s up to commanding officer Lt. Gen. Jocoby to decide whether or not there is “reasonable belief” that Bjork could have ordered the killings. Based on such a low standard, Kelley said he believed the case probably would go forward but that Bjork certainly will be exonerated.

A Facebook page has been set up for people who want to indicate their support at www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=193919133047&ref=mf.

Contact Vicky Gits at vicky@evergreenco.com or 303-350-1042. Check www.CanyonCourier.com for updates.