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US soldier sentenced to 5 months for role in Iraqi civilian murders

[JURIST] US Army Spc. Jorge G. Sandoval was sentenced Saturday to five months in prison for his role in covering up the shootings of three unarmed Iraqis. Sandoval was convicted Friday at his court-martial of planting evidence but was acquitted of premeditated murder [JURIST report]. In addition to the prison sentence, Sandoval will receive a reduction in rank and will be required to forfeit his pay.

Sandoval was charged [press release; JURIST report] along with Staff Sgt. Michael A. Hensley and Sgt. Evan Vela with premeditated murder and wrongfully placing a weapon with the remains of a deceased Iraqi for his role in the incidents, which took place in April and June 2007 in the vicinity of Iskandariyah, Iraq [GlobalSecurity backgrounder]. Vela and Hensley will be tried separately. Vela's lawyer has argued that Vela was simply following orders to "bait" suspected Iraqi insurgents with materials that could be used to aid the insurgency and then kill them. In August, Hensley refused to accept a plea agreement [JURIST report], saying he was innocent of the charges against him. AP has more.

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