[QODLink]
Americas
US sergeant guilty of Iraq murder
Marine squad leader awaits sentencing in Hamdania case of kidnapping and killing.
Last Modified: 03 Aug 2007 00:41 GMT
Frustrated at not finding their suspect, the US soldiers kidnapped and shot a neighbour [File: AFP]
A US marine squad leader charged over the kidnap and killing of a grandfather in Iraq last year has been found guilty of murder.
 
A military jury at Camp Pendleton base, near San Diego, found on Thursday that Sergeant Lawrence Hutchins committed unpremeditated murder and larceny.
Hutchins, 23, was also convicted of making false official statements and participating in a conspiracy to murder.
 
Witnesses said Hutchins led the unit in planning to kidnap and kill a suspect on the night of April 26, 2006 in Hamdania.
When the unit could not find the suspect, they randomly killed Hashim Ibrahim Awad, 52, a father of 11 and grandfather of four who lived next door.
 
After Hutchins shot Hashim in the head, the squad then set a stolen AK-47 and shovel next to the corpse to suggest he had been planting a roadside bomb.
 
The prosecutor in the case, Lieutenant-Colonel John Baker, said in closing arguments that Hutchins masterminded "a cold and calculated plan ... to take the law into his own hands".
 
Hutchins's lead defence lawyer, Richard Brannon, said that the actions of Hutchins and his men was "a failure of command", alluding to allegations that their platoon leader's rough handling of some detainees sent the wrong message to the marines.
 
Hutchins was cleared of additional charges of kidnapping, assault and housebreaking.
 
The jury will now begin considering his sentence.
 
Further convictions
 
Hutchins is one of seven marines and one sailor charged in the killing of the Iraqi in Hamdania.
 
A separate military jury on Wednesday found Corporal Marshall Magincalda guilty of larceny and housebreaking, demoted him to private, forfeited all military pay and benefits, and gave him a bad-conduct discharge.
 
Five members of the squad, including the navy medic, pleaded guilty to lesser charges in connection with the shooting.
 
A military jury convicted a sixth member, team leader Corporal Trent Thomas, of conspiracy and kidnapping and as well as conspiracy to murder.
Source:
Agencies
Topics in this article
People
Featured on Al Jazeera
UNHCR says hundreds of people trapped in Yaloke town risk death if they are not evacuated to safety urgently.
'Justice for All' demonstrations swell across the US over the deaths of African Americans in police encounters.
Six former Guantanamo detainees are now free in Uruguay with some hailing the decision to grant them asylum.
Disproportionately high number of Aboriginal people in prison highlights inequality and marginalisation, critics say.
Featured
Long-standing dispute over Christian use of the word 'Allah' raises concerns about a very un-Merry Christmas.
The threat posed by ISIL has prompted thousands of young Kurds to join the PKK.
Baja California - with its own grim history of disappeared people - finds a voice in the fight against violence.
Russian feminist rockers fight system holding 700,000 - the world's largest per capita prison population after the US.
Weeks of growing protests against Muslims continue in Dresden with 15,000 hitting the streets last Monday.