US Army officer gets 25 years for murder of Iraqi detainee

A military jury Feb. 28 sentenced US Army First Lt. Michael Behenna to 25 years in prison after convicting him of the murder and assault of an Iraqi detainee. The 101st Airborne Division officer, who claimed he acted in self-defense by shooting the victim, could have received a life sentence in the proceedings at Kentucky’s Fort Campbell. Staff Sgt. Hal Warner, who threw a grenade on the body of victim Ali Mansour Mohammed, initially thought to have been released by Coalition forces in May 2008, testified against Behenna after pleading guilty to assault, maltreatment of a subordinate and making a false statement. The judge will hear Behenna’s arguments for mistrial, based on a claim that the prosecution withheld evidence. Behenna was acquitted on a charge of making a false statement.

The US-led Multi-National Force-Iraq brought murder charges against Behenna and Warner in August. In September, a US soldier and an Iraqi translator testified against Warner in a preliminary hearing. Behenna’s conviction follows that a week before of US Army Sgt. Michael Leahy Jr. on charges stemming from the 2007 deaths of four Iraqi detainees. (Jurist, March 1)

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