Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 22 August 2019

Donald Trump pardons former army ranger convicted of killing Iraqi prisoner

He was found guilty by a military court and sentenced to 25 years in prison in 2009

The White House announced Monday, May 6, 2019, that President Donald Trump pardoned Michael Behenna, a former US soldier convicted in 2009 of killing an Iraqi prisoner. AP
The White House announced Monday, May 6, 2019, that President Donald Trump pardoned Michael Behenna, a former US soldier convicted in 2009 of killing an Iraqi prisoner. AP

US President Donald Trump pardoned Michael Behenna, a former US army ranger convicted of killing a Iraqi prisoner in 2008, late on Monday

Mr Behenna was convicted in 2009 by a military court and sentenced for 25 years in prison. He was found guilty of “unpremeditated murder in a combat zone” for shooting a Iraqi prisoner Ali Mansur who was suspected of ties to Al Qaeda but then cleared for lack of “conclusive evidence”.

According to The Washington Post, Mr Behenna was ordered “to transport [Ali] Mansur back to his village” but instead he “took him to a secluded railroad culvert and demanded more information from him” on a roadside bomb that killed two of Mr Behenna’s friends.

The soldier then stripped Mr Mansur naked, interrogated him with no authorisation, and killed him in what he said was an act of self defence and as the Iraqi man attempted to hit him with a piece of concrete and tried to reach for his weapon.

“This is your last chance to tell the information or you will die,” the former army Lieutenant told Mr Mansur per a military court filing. He then told other soldiers that “he would do it again, and he did not feel bad about it because he just lost two guys”.

But Mr Behenna’s court proceedings were questioned on the basis that his self-defence claims did not get a fair hearing.

He filed for a mistrial but a judged denied that motion. His sentence was eventually reduced to 15 years, and he was given a parole in 2014, which was scheduled to last until 2024.

In the statement announcing the pardon, White House press secretary Sarah Sanders said Mr Trump “signed an Executive Grant of Clemency (Full Pardon) for former Army First Lieutenant Michael Behenna of Oklahoma”.

It mentioned that the “US Army’s highest appellate court noted concern about how the trial court had handled” and that there is “broad support from the military, Oklahoma elected officials, and the public” for the pardon.

“Thirty-seven generals and admirals, along with a former Inspector General of the Department of Defense, signed a brief in support of Mr Behenna’s self-defence claim.”

Oklahoma's two Republican senators James Lankford and Jim Inhofe welcomed Mr Trump’s decision and giving Mr Behenna a “clean slate.”

The pardon will allow Mr Behenna to regain his legal rights in Oklahoma that were not possible under parole, or being a felon, such as voting, and owning a gun.

Updated: May 7, 2019 06:15 PM

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