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US Army officer sentenced to 25 years for murder of Iraqi detainee

[JURIST] A military jury in Kentucky on Saturday sentenced US Army First Lt. Michael Behenna [JURIST news archive] to 25 years in prison after convicting him Friday of the murder and assault of an Iraqi detainee. The 101st Airborne Division officer, who claimed he acted in self-defense by shooting the victim, could have received a life sentence in the proceedings at Fort Campbell [official website]. Staff Sgt. Hal Warner [JURIST news archive], who threw a grenade on the body of victim Ali Mansour Mohammed, initially thought to have been released by Coalition forces in May 2008, testified against Behenna after pleading guilty to assault, maltreatment of a subordinate and making a false statement. On Monday, the judge will hear Behenna's arguments for mistrial [AP report], based on a claim that the prosecution withheld evidence. Behenna was acquitted on a charge of making a false statement.

The US-led Multi-National Force-Iraq [official website] brought murder charges [JURIST report] against Behenna and Warner in August. In September, a US soldier and an Iraqi translator testified against Warner in a preliminary hearing [JURIST report]. Behenna's conviction follows the conviction [JURIST report] a week before of US Army Sgt. Michael Leahy Jr. on charges stemming from the 2007 deaths of four Iraqi detainees.

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