US soldier guilty of murdering Iraqi10/12/2004 - 14:16:42
A US soldier pleaded guilty today to murdering a severely-wounded 16-year-old Iraqi, the military said.
Staff Sgt. Johnny Horne, 30, of Winston-Salem, North Carolina, was charged with the August 18 murder in Baghdad’s Sadr City, the scene of fierce clashes earlier this year between coalition forces and Shiite rebels allied to firebrand anti-US cleric Muqtada al-Sadr.
The military said Horne was expected to be sentenced later today.
Horne, a member of Company C, 1st Battalion, 41st Infantry Regiment, Fort Riley, Kansas, also pleaded guilty during his court martial in Baghdad to a charge of soliciting another soldier to commit murder.
He is one of six Fort Riley soldiers charged with murder in recent months - two for killings in Kansas and four for deaths in Iraq.
“The convictions stemmed from Staff Sgt. Horne’s murder of a severely-wounded Iraqi civilian in Baghdad’s Sadr City district,” a military statement said.
Previous military court hearings have heard that several troops fired on a group of Iraqi men placing home-made bombs along a road in Sadr City, an impoverished Baghdad neighbourhood.
Soldiers from the same battalion arrived on the scene to find a burning truck and casualties around it.
According to accounts given by witnesses at previous hearings, the soldiers, including Horne, attempted to rescue an Iraqi casualty from inside the truck. The victim had severe abdominal wounds and burns, and was thought by several of the witnesses to be beyond medical help.
The criminal investigator had said the US soldiers had decided that “the best course of action was to put the victim out of his misery.”
Another military hearing into a soldier charged with murdering another Iraqi in a separate August incident in Sadr City is expected to continue.
Sgt. Michael Williams, 25, of Memphis, Tennessee, faced the opening day of an Article 32 hearing yesterday charged with premeditated murder, obstruction of justice and making a false official statement.
Two witnesses gave evidence during the Article 32 hearing, which is the military equivalent of a grand jury hearing.
Williams is charged in the same case along with Spc. Brent May, 22, of Salem, Ohio, who faced a two-day hearing this week and is awaiting a ruling on whether he will be court-martialed, receive a lesser penalty or be acquitted.
Six members of his unit, Company C, 1st Battalion, 41st Infantry Regiment, from Fort Riley, Kansas, testified in his case.
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