Preliminary hearing concludes for US soldier accused of murdering Iraq detainee

[JURIST] A US soldier and an Iraqi translator for the US military testified against Staff Sgt. Hal M. Warner [defense website; JURIST news archive] as an Article 32 preliminary hearing [JAG backgrounder] concluded Sunday in Iraq [JURIST news archive]. Military prosecutors are seeking to court-martial Warner, of the Army's 1st Battalion, 327th Infantry [unit website], in connection with the murder of an Iraqi detainee earlier this year. The translator testified that he had watched Warner detonate a grenade under the head of Ali Mansur Mohammed, who was being interrogated in connection with an attack on US troops. The soldier, Cpl. Cody Atkinson, testified that he had seen Warner carrying a grenade as he escorted Mohammed out of a vehicle and that Warner later instructed him to say that Mohammed had been released from custody. Warner is charged [press release; JURIST report] with premeditated murder, assault, making a false official statement, obstruction of justice and being an accessory after the fact. A preliminary hearing for 1st Lt. Michael Behenna [JURIST news archive], who is accused of shooting Mohammed before Warner allegedly set off the grenade, is scheduled for September 20. AFP has more.

In March, US Marine Sgt. Ryan Weemer was charged [press release] with one count of murder and one count of dereliction of duty for his involvement in the shooting death of a detained Iraqi insurgent during a Multi-National Force-Iraq (MNF-Iraq) [official website] November 2004 offensive [GlobalSecurity backgrounder] in Fallujah [USMC timeline; JURIST news archive]. The charges against Weemer followed December 2007 charges against Marine Sgt. Jermaine A. Nelson for murder and dereliction of duty, and August charges [JURIST reports] against former Marine Sgt. Jose Nazario for voluntary manslaughter in connection with the same incident. In March 2007, a US military court-martial found 101st Airborne Staff Sgt. Raymond Girouard guilty of three counts of negligent homicide [Article 32 hearing transcript, DOC], but not guilty of premeditated murder for the deaths of three Iraqi detainees [JURIST news archive] held after a May 2006 raid in Thar Thar, a town near Samarra in the northern Salahuddin province of Iraq. In January 2007 US Army Specialist William Hunsaker received an 18-year prison sentence after pleading guilty to murder, attempted murder and obstruction of justice charges [JURIST report] relating to the same incident.

 

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