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US Marine given bad conduct discharge in Hamdania case

[JURIST] A military jury sitting at Camp Pendleton, California, sentenced US Marine Cpl. Trent Thomas [advocacy website] Friday to a bad-conduct discharge [press release] and reduced his rank to private for his role in the 2006 kidnapping and murder of an Iraqi civilian in Hamdania [USMC timeline; JURIST news archive]. On Wednesday, the jury found Thomas guilty of kidnapping and conspiracy [JURIST report], but acquitted him of premeditated murder, making a false official statement and housebreaking. Defense lawyers, who asserted that "Marines in combat don't challenge orders," had argued that Thomas followed the orders of his superior, Sgt. Lawrence G. Hutchins III. Hutchins also faces several charges [JURIST report], including murder. Thomas previously pleaded guilty [JURIST report] to unpremeditated murder but subsequently withdrew his guilty plea [JURIST report]. Thomas could have been sentenced to a maximum sentence of life in prison.

Five defendants have pleaded guilty [JURIST report] in the death of Hashim Ibrahim Awad [Wikipedia profile], who was removed from his residence and killed, then arranged with a shovel and firearm to appear as if he were planting an improvised explosive device. Uniform Code of Military Justice Section 809 Art. 90(2), Art. 91(2), and Art. 92(1, 2) [texts] imposes upon US military personnel an obligation and duty to obey only lawful orders. AP has more.

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