News and Information

US soldier admits murdering Iraqi
December 10, 2004
A US soldier has pleaded guilty to murdering a severely wounded 16-year-old Iraqi, the military says.
Staff Sgt Johnny Horne Jr was convicted of unpremeditated murder of the civilian youth in Baghdad's Sadr City suburb on 18 August.

His defence said the death of the injured Iraqi was a "mercy killing" in collusion with another soldier.

Under a plea bargain deal, Horne faces a maximum sentence of 10 years instead of the possibility of life in prison.

Horne also pleaded guilty to a charge of soliciting another soldier to commit murder.

His was one of a dozen court martial hearings under way relating to action in Iraq.

'Out of his misery'

The charges stem from an incident in Sadr City when coalition forces were locked in fierce fighting with supporters of Shia cleric Moqtada Sadr.

The court heard that members of Horne's unit fired on a rubbish truck they suspected of laying roadside bombs.

However, inside the lorry was a crew of teenage boys hoping to make some extra money on a night shift.

The soldiers, including Horne, tried to rescue one of the injured youths, according to witness testimony.

Several witnesses described the injured Iraqi as having severe abdominal wounds and burns. Some thought the casualty was beyond medical help.

Witnesses say Horne shot and killed one of the badly injured boys.

The US soldiers decided that "the best course of action was to put [the Iraqi] out of his misery", the criminal investigator told the court.

Another hearing relating to a separate incident in Sadr City is expected to continue on Friday.

Sgt Michael P Williams is charged with murdering an Iraqi as well as obstruction of justice and making false statements.


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