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Soldier guilty of killing wounded iraqi teenager

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U.S. Soldier Sentenced in Iraq Killing
U.S. Soldier Admits to Killing Wounded Iraqi Teenager and Is Sentenced to Three Years in Prison

The Associated Press
Dec. 11, 2004 - A U.S. soldier was sentenced to three years in prison for killing a severely wounded Iraqi teenager, the military said Saturday. In Ramadi, the military said insurgents staged attacks from a hospital, though medical officials denied that claim.

Staff Sgt. Johnny M. Horne Jr., 30, of Winston-Salem, N.C., pleaded guilty on Friday to one count of unpremeditated murder and one count of soliciting another soldier to commit unpremeditated murder.

His sentencing included a reduction in rank to private, forfeiture of wages and a dishonorable discharge.

The charges relate to the Aug. 18 killing of a 16-year-old Iraqi male found in a burning truck with severe abdominal wounds sustained during clashes in Baghdad's Sadr City, an impoverished neighborhood that was the scene of fierce fighting between U.S. forces and Shiite rebels loyal to anti-U.S. cleric Muqtada al-Sadr.

A criminal investigator had said during an earlier hearing that the soldiers decided to kill him to "put him out of his misery."

A jury-like panel of seven service members late Friday sentenced Horne who is attached to Company C, 1st Battalion, 41st Infantry Regiment, based in Fort Riley, Kansas after about four hours of deliberations, the military said on Saturday.

In Ramadi, the military said insurgents used the hospital to fire rocket propelled grenades and small arms fire at U.S. troops. There were no American casualties, but an Iraqi civilian was killed.

Officials from both the Ramadi General Hospital and Medical College, though, rejected the claims. They said the fighting occurred near the hospital.

Capt. Bradley Gordon, spokesman for the 1st Marine Division of the 1st Marine Expeditionary Force, said the ambush happened late Friday as U.S. soldiers attached to the Marines were patrolling in Ramadi, 70 miles west of Baghdad.

Insurgents hid inside the Ramadi General Hospital and Medical College and in nearby areas waiting for the soldiers to move into their ambush zone, he said.

"Some of the muzzle flashes of insurgent firing positions were observed as originating from windows within the hospital," he said.

As'ad Ali, a hospital official who worked the night shift during the time the clashes occurred, rejected the U.S. claims.

"No armed men entered the hospital yesterday and the hospital was not used to attack anybody," he said. "There were clashes but they took place near the hospital."

Elsewhere, a car bomb in Mosul exploded near a U.S. military convoy, killing a civilian but causing no American casualties, witnesses said.

Horne is among six Fort Riley soldiers charged with killings in recent months two for slayings in Kansas and four for deaths in Iraq. Staff Sgt. Cardenas J. Alban, 29, of Inglewood, Calif., is charged along with Horne in the teenager's killing and is awaiting a court-martial hearing.

Two other soldiers from the same unit this week faced Article 32 hearings the military equivalent of a grand jury hearing over a Sadr City killing in August.

An Article 32 hearing was held Thursday for Sgt. Michael P. Williams, 25, of Memphis, Tenn., on charges of premeditated murder, obstruction of justice and making a false official statement. Also charged is Spc. Brent May, 22, of Salem, Ohio, who had a two-day hearing and is awaiting a ruling on whether he will be court-martialed, receive a lesser penalty or be acquitted.

Human rights groups have condemned the illegal killings of Iraqis either civilians or wounded fighters by the U.S. military, saying such acts amount to violations of international humanitarian rights and should be dealt with as war crimes.

Critics also say poor understanding by young U.S. troops of the rules of military engagement leads to the killing of civilians.

"It doesn't help you win the hearts and minds of the public if you put a bullet in their hearts and another in the minds," said Mark Garlasco, senior military analyst for Human Rights Watch.

Elsewhere, gunmen ambushed a police patrol late Friday in the northern Baghdad suburb of Azamiyah, killing the two officers and injuring two others, Lt. Mohammed al-Obeidi said.

Also in Baghdad, Shiite cleric Salim al-Yaqoubi was assassinated by gunmen near his house in the city's northern Shula neighborhood, a police spokesman said.

Meanwhile, Iraqi police detained 29 people after a police station north of Baghdad was attacked by mortar and rocket propelled grenade fire, Master Sgt. Robert Powell said on Saturday.

It was not immediately clear how those detained were connected to the attack, Powell said. The detainees are undergoing police questioning.

Elsewhere, two hundred members of Britain's Black Watch regiment returned to their base in England on Saturday after a contentious deployment to back up U.S. forces in Iraq.

The soldiers the first batch of about 850 due to return over the next few days were moved north in early November from their base near Basra to free up U.S. forces for their assault on Fallujah. The decision angered many British lawmakers, who feared a rising number of British casualties.

Five members of the force were killed during the monthlong mission.

Copyright 2004 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

Copyright 2004 ABC News Internet Ventures

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