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US Army sniper acquitted of murder charges in Iraqi civilian killings

[JURIST] US Army Staff Sgt. Michael Hensley [JURIST news archive] was acquitted [AP report] at court-martial late last week of premeditated murder charges related to the separate deaths of three Iraqi civilians in April and May this year in the vicinity of Iskandariyah [GlobalSecurity backgrounder], according to a statement [text] issued by the US military Saturday. He was, however, convicted under Article 134 of the Uniform Code of Military Justice of wrongfully placing an AK-47 rifle with the remains of one Iraqi man and was also found guilty under UCMJ Article 89 for showing disrespect to a superior commissioned officer. Hensley, a sniper and platoon sergeant with the 25th Infantry Regiment, 501st Infantry Regiment, 1st Battalion, was sentenced [LA Times report] to time served, given a demotion to the rank of sergeant, and received a letter of reprimand as punishment. In August, Hensley had rejected a plea deal [JURIST report] and maintained his innocence of the charges. The New York Times has more. Reuters has additional coverage.

In September, another US Army soldier from Hensley's unit, Spc. Jorge G. Sandoval, was found not guilty [JURIST report] of similar charges. Hensley, Sandoval, and a third soldier, Sgt. Evan Vela, were all charged [JURIST report] in June with premeditated murder and wrongfully placing weapons with the remains of deceased Iraqis.

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Paper Chase is JURIST's real-time legal news service, powered by a team of 30 law student reporters and editors led by law professor Bernard Hibbitts at the University of Pittsburgh School of Law. As an educational service, Paper Chase is dedicated to presenting important legal news and materials rapidly, objectively and intelligibly in an accessible format.

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