US soldier guilty in Iraq killing

From:

Mar 17, 2007

A US soldier has been found guilty on three charges of negligent homicide in the deaths of three Iraqi detainees.

Sgt Raymond Girouard was the last of four soldiers to be tried over the killings during a raid on a suspected insurgent camp near Samarra in 2006.

Sgt Girouard, 24, denied ordering his soldiers to shoot the Iraqi prisoners but admitted covering up the deaths.

Two soldiers pleaded guilty to murder and were jailed for 18 years. Another was sentenced to nine months.

A court martial jury in Fort Campbell, Kentucky, also found Sgt Girouard guilty of obstruction of justice and of conspiracy for trying to hide the crime.

Negligent homicide carries a maximum of three years in jail whereas premeditated murder carries a maximum of life without parole.

'Cover-up'

Specialist William Hunsaker and Private First Class Corey Clagett - who admitted to releasing and then shooting the men - received 18-year sentences in a deal with military prosecutors.

Specialist Juston Graber - who said he killed an injured prisoner in what he called a mercy killing - admitted aggravated assault and was jailed for nine months.

Hunsaker testified on Tuesday that Sgt Girouard gave him orders to free the three Iraqi detainees, and then shoot them as they fled.

Hunsaker said that after the squad took the detainees into custody, Sgt Girouard told the soldiers the group's first sergeant was angry the three men were still alive.

Hunsaker said he and Corey Clagett took the detainees outside and told them to run.

"I shot him [the first detainee] where his heart should be. I moved from right to left. I took aim in the same manner and aimed for the heart and the head," Hunsaker told the court.

He said that after the detainees were shot, Sgt Girouard cut him with a pocket knife to make it appear there had been a struggle.

The case is one of two incidents involving allegations of civilian killings involving the 101st Airborne Division.

In the other case, four soldiers and a former soldier are accused of raping and murdering a 14-year-old girl in March 2006, and killing her family.