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Iraq court sentences alleged insurgent to death for killings of US soldiers

[JURIST] A three-judge panel of the Iraqi Central Criminal Court on Tuesday sentenced [Multi-National Force press release] to death an Iraqi citizen affiliated with a Sunni militant organization for the 2006 abduction, torture, and killing of two US soldiers and the killing of a third US soldier. The trial and conviction are the first in which an Iraqi citizen has faced charges in an Iraqi court stemming from the killing of US military personnel. The alleged Iraqi insurgent, Ibrahim Karim al-Qaraghuli, was found guilty of the abduction, torture, and killing of Privates First Class Thomas Tucker and Kristian Menchaca, and the killing of Specialist David Babineau. The incident occurred south of Baghdad in June 2006. Al-Qaraghuli was convicted [Washington Post report] based on the testimony of numerous witness, as well as on the basis of physical evidence linking him to the crime, including expert testimony that his fingerprints matched photographs of bloody fingerprints from the crime scene. Two co-defendants were acquitted of the same charges. The New York Times has more. McClatchy Newspapers has additional coverage.

In September 2006, US military officials said that Tucker, Menchaca, and Babineau were not involved [JURIST report] in the rape and murder of a 14-year-old girl and the murder of her family in the near-by area of Mahmudiya [JURIST news archive]. A group linked to al Qaeda released a video in July that showed two of the dead soldiers' bodies and said the troops were killed to avenge the deaths of the family killed in Mahmudiya. The rape and murders outraged Iraqi leaders [JURIST report], prompting an independent investigation [JURIST report] by Iraqis into crimes allegedly committed by US troops.

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