May 7, 2019 / 3:39 AM / 2 months ago

Trump pardons former U.S. soldier convicted of killing Iraqi prisoner

(Reuters) - President Donald Trump on Monday pardoned former U.S. Army Lieutenant Michael Behenna, who was imprisoned for five years for killing an Iraqi prisoner in 2008.

Behenna, a platoon leader in the 101st Airborne Division, was convicted of unpremeditated murder and sentenced to 25 years after killing Ali Mansur Mohamed, a suspected al-Qaeda member.

Behenna, who stripped Mansur naked for questioning and then shot him twice, claimed he was acting in self-defence.

His sentence was subsequently reduced to 15 years and he was paroled in 2014, five years into his term.

“Behenna’s case has attracted broad support from the military, Oklahoma elected officials, and the public,” the White House said in a statement.

Oklahoma Attorney General Mike Hunter petitioned the White House for the pardon.

Mansur was captured by Behenna’s soldiers and questioned by military intelligence in connection with a roadside bomb that killed two members of the platoon on April 21, 2008.

Mansur was ordered released due to insufficient evidence to hold him and Behenna was tasked with returning him to his village. During the operation, Behenna stopped the convoy and questioned Mansur on the attack.

Behenna said Mansur lunged for his weapon and he shot him in self defence, according to testimony from his 2009 trial.

The White House said Behenna was a “model prisoner” and “entirely deserving” of the Grant of Executive Clemency.

Reporting By Andrew Hay; Editing by Kim Coghill

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