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U.S. soldier gets 18 years prison in Iraq slayings

Reuters | January 25, 2007

CHICAGO (Reuters) - A third U.S. soldier on Thursday was sentenced to 18 years in prison after pleading guilty in the deaths of three Iraqi detainees, officials at Fort Campbell in Kentucky said.

Pfc. Corey Clagett, 22, had entered into a plea agreement at the start of his court-martial on the military base.

The slayings occurred in May 2006 during a raid on a suspected insurgent camp near Thar Thar Lake, southwest of Tikrit.

Clagett, of Moncks Corner, South Carolina, pleaded guilty to attempted premeditated murder, conspiracy to commit premeditated murder, premeditated murder, conspiracy to obstruct justice and obstruction of justice.

He was also ordered to forfeit all pay and allowances and will be dishonorably discharged.

His prison sentence was identical to one handed down earlier this month to Specialist William Hunsaker, 24, who pleaded guilty to murder, attempted murder and obstruction of justice, also under a plea arrangement.

Also earlier this month, Specialist Juston Graber, 21, pleaded guilty to one charge of aggravated assault with a dangerous weapon in the same case under a plea agreement and was sentenced to nine months in prison. Prosecutors said he did not take part in the initial shooting but killed one of the severely wounded Iraqis because he was suffering and his life could not be saved.

The fourth person charged in the case, Staff Sgt. Raymond Girouard, who was in charge of the group, faces court-martial on March 5 at Fort Campbell, home of the 101st Airborne Division.

Some of the four who were accused said the detainees were trying to escape when they were shot, but military prosecutors said they were freed before being killed. Lawyers for some of the men have said they were acting under orders to kill all men of military age.

During an August hearing in Iraq that led to the charges, a witness testified he saw the prisoners trying to run away at full sprint, some with their blindfolds down, when they were shot.

The case is one of a series from the Iraq war in which U.S. military personnel are accused of crimes against Iraqi civilians.

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