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US Army sergeant convicted in murder of Iraq detainees

[JURIST] US Army Sgt. Michael Leahy Jr. [JURIST news archive] was convicted Friday on charges [JURIST report] stemming from the 2007 deaths of four Iraqi detainees, and was given a life sentence at a court-martial at a US military base in Germany. Leahy will have a possibility of parole after being dishonorably discharged, having his rank reduced to private, and forfeiting his pay. The medic from Illinois [Chicago Tribune report] had admitted to shooting one of the prisoners but pleaded not guilty to charges of premeditated murder, conspiracy to commit premeditated murder, and obstruction of justice, claiming his lack of sleep and long-term presence in a war zone had made him unable to reason properly.

On Tuesday, a military judge ruled [JURIST report] that Staff Sgt. Jess Cunningham, who had been accused as a co-conspirator before his charges were dropped, would be allowed to testify against Leahy. Leahy was among six members of the 1st Battalion, 18th Infantry [unit website] accused in killings that took place between March 10 and April 16, 2007. The prisoners were allegedly shot in the head while bound and blindfolded before being dumped in a canal. Fellow unit members Spc. Belmor Ramon and Spc. Steven Ribordy pleaded guilty to conspiracy and accessory to murder [JURIST reports], respectively, in connection with the incident.

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