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Soldier convincted of murdering unarmed iraqis

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   http://abcnews.go.com/US/wireStory?id=1322879

http://abcnews.go.com/US/wireStory?id=1322879

Soldier Says He Lied to Get Lighter Term
Soldier Says He Lied When He Implicated Platoon Leader in Killing to Get Lighter Sentence
By JOHN MILBURN
The Associated Press

FORT RILEY, Kan. - A soldier convicted of murdering unarmed Iraqis testified Thursday that he falsely implicated his platoon leader in one of the slayings so that he could get a lighter prison sentence.

The startling testimony came at a military hearing to determine whether 2nd Lt. Erick J. Anderson should be court-martialed on murder charges.

Pvt. Michael Williams said, contrary to his earlier statements, that the Iraqi victim was already dead when Anderson arrived, and that Anderson never gave any order to kill him.

"I just felt that pressure of getting a life sentence instead of 25 years," Williams said. "It's just a lot of my fear."

On Wednesday, an Army investigator testified that Williams implicated his platoon leader only after his prison sentence was reduced to 25 years from life.

Williams' original statement led to murder charges being filed against Anderson in October. Anderson was charged with ordering Williams and a second soldier to kill Iraqi civilians while the platoon was conducting missions in August 2004 near Sadr City, outside Baghdad.

Williams testified Thursday that after entering a house during a search, he and his team found an Iraqi man with an AK-47 rifle. Williams said he shot the man twice in the chest after the man reached for the gun.

Contradicting his own statements and those of other soldiers in the platoon, Williams said he fired a third shot at the Iraqi to make sure he was dead before Anderson arrived at the house.

Prosecutors argue that after entering the house, Anderson told Williams the man was not dead yet and said to finish him off.

Anderson's attorneys appeared stunned by the witness' new version of events.

"We're going to shorten our case significantly," Neal Puckett, an attorney for Anderson, said outside the hearing.

In the separate incident, prosecutors allege Anderson ordered two sergeants to kill a wounded teenager during night operations near Sadr City. The two sergeants were convicted; they claimed it was a "mercy killing" authorized by Anderson.


On the Net:

Fort Riley: http://www.riley.army.mil


Copyright 2005 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

Copyright 2005 ABC News Internet Ventures



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