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US soldier pleads guilty to accessory to murder in Iraqi detainee deaths

[JURIST] A US Army soldier pleaded guilty Thursday to accessory to murder in connection with the killings of four unarmed Iraqi prisoners [New York Times report] west of Baghdad last year. Specialist Steven Ribordy, formerly a member of the 1st Battalion, 18th Infantry [unit website], testified at his court-martial that he stood at his post and watched as other members of his battalion carried out the killings, said to have been committed to avenge the January 2007 deaths of two US soldiers. As part of a plea agreement, Ribordy was sentenced to eight months in prison, a reduction from a term of up to five years. Ribordy will also receive a bad-conduct discharge with a reduced rank. AP has more. AFP has additional coverage.

Seven soldiers from the same battalion face charges [JURIST report] including premeditated murder, conspiracy to commit premeditated murder and obstruction of justice for their alleged involvement in the killings. Last month, Specialist Belmor Ramos pleaded guilty to conspiracy [JURIST report] for his involvement, admitting he willingly took part in the killings as retribution for the deaths of the US soldiers. Three other soldiers are awaiting hearings to determine sufficiency of evidence for courts-martial, but no date has been set.

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