U.S. soldier convicted of assault in Iraq death
The Kirkuk incident was not manslaughter, jury finds. Trial for 2005 Haditha killings is slated for March 3.
A United States soldier was found guilty Wednesday by a military jury in Hawaii of aggravated assault over the death last June of an unarmed civilian near the northern Iraq city of Kirkuk. But the jury acquitted the soldier, Army Spc. Christopher Shore of Winder, Georgia, of manslaughter. The assault conviction carries a maximum jail term of eight years and dishonorable discharge.Skip to next paragraph
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At the same time, a pretrial hearing began Wednesday for US Marine Staff Sgt. Frank Wuterich, who led a squad that allegedly killed 24 Iraqi civilians in Haditha in 2005. Sergeant Wuterich is accused of voluntary manslaughter and other crimes in the Haditha killings, which was first uncovered by Time magazineand led to criticism of the marines' conduct as well as comparisons with past wartime massacres, including My Lai in Vietnam. Time later issued a correction about its story.
The court martial of Wuterich and other Haditha-related suspects are the largest so far involving US soldiers accused of unlawfully killing civilians and obstructing justice in Iraq. However, a PBS documentary aired Tuesday cast doubt over the accuracy of media coverage and commentary on the incident.
The Honolulu Star-Bulletin reports that Army Specialist Shore had initially been charged with premeditated murder over the June 23 incident in Kirkuk. But the charge was later reduced to manslaughter by the outgoing commander of the 25th Infantry Division.
Shore said that he was ordered to shoot the unnamed Iraqi man by his patrol leader during a nighttime raid in the town of Al-Shaheed outside Kirkuk. The civilian was later pronounced dead, with multiple shot wounds in the head and chest, the jury was told. The patrol leader, Sgt. 1st Class Trey Corrales, faces separate charges over the killing, including premeditated murder and obstructing justice.
Shore was expressionless when the verdict was read in court at Wheeler Army Airfield and declined to comment as he hugged friends and relatives outside, the Associated Press reports. He later spoke emotionally in court about the stress of losing members of his platoon in combat.
"I know it's real easy if you've never been in this situation to Monday quarterback and say what the law says," he told the court. "You don't know until you're there."