Trump Pardons Former Soldier Who Killed Iraqi Prisoner

The Associated Press reports:

President Donald Trump has pardoned a former U.S. soldier convicted in 2009 of killing an Iraqi prisoner, the White House announced Monday. Trump signed an executive grant of clemency, a full pardon, for former Army 1st Lt. Michael Behenna, of Oklahoma, press secretary Sarah Sanders said.

Behenna was convicted of unpremeditated murder in a combat zone after killing a suspected al-Qaida terrorist in Iraq. He was paroled in 2014 and had been scheduled to remain on parole until 2024.

A military court had sentenced Behenna to 25 years in prison. However, the Army’s highest appellate court noted concern about how the trial court had handled Behenna’s claim of self-defense, Sanders said. The Army Clemency and Parole Board also reduced his sentence to 15 years and paroled him as soon as he was eligible.

The New York Times reports:

During a deployment in Iraq in 2008, First Lt. Michael Behenna and his platoon believed the man, Ali Mansur, was a terrorist linked to Al Qaeda. They took him to a remote part of the Iraqi desert to question him about a previous attack that left two American soldiers dead, according to court filings. During the interrogation, Lieutenant Behenna shot Mr. Mansur in the head and chest.

“This is your last chance to tell the information or you will die,” Lieutenant Behenna told Mr. Mansur, according to a military court filing. Mr. Mansur said that he would talk, it said, but Lieutenant Behenna shot him. Lieutenant Behenna told other soldiers after the killing that “he would do it again, and he did not feel bad about it because he just lost two guys,” according to the filing.