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Third US soldier pleads guilty in Samarra Iraqi detainee killings

[JURIST] US Army Pfc. Corey R. Clagett pleaded guilty during his court-martial on Thursday to charges of murder, attempted murder, conspiracy to commit murder and conspiracy to obstruct justice, relating to the killing of several Iraqi detainees [JURIST report] after a May 9 2006 raid in Thar Thar, a town near Samarra, in Iraq's Salahuddin province. The soldiers, members of the Third Brigade Combat Team of the 101st Airborne Division [GlobalSecurity backgrounder], initially covered up the murders [JURIST report], saying the Iraqis were attempting to flee, a story they later recanted. Clagett on Thursday told the military judge that his squad leader, Staff Sgt. Raymond Girouard, ordered the murders, and that Clagett knew it was an unlawful order.

Girouard is the only soldier of the four still awaiting his court-martial, which is expected to begin soon. US Army Specialist William Hunsaker received an 18-year prison sentence [JURIST report] earlier this month after pleading guilty to murder, attempted murder and obstruction of justice charges [JURIST report]. Specialist Juston Graber received a nine-month sentence after pleading guilty [JURIST report] to aggravated assault with a dangerous weapon. The Army demoted Hunsaker and Graber to the rank of private and gave Hunsaker a dishonorable discharge. A US Army investigator had recommended that all four US soldiers should face the death penalty [JURIST report]. AP has more.

1/26/07 - Clagett received an 18-year prison sentence and will be dishonorably discharged from the Army after being demoted to private. AP has more.

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