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US Army soldier convicted over 2007 Iraq deaths

world Updated: Apr 16, 2009 08:01 IST

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A US Army master sergeant has been convicted of murder in the execution-style slayings of four bound and blindfolded Iraqi detainees.

Master Sgt John Hatley and two others took the four men to Baghdad's West Rasheed neighborhood, shot them in the head and dumped their bodies into a canal in spring 2007, the prosecution said. Hatley acted as "judge, jury and executioner" in hatching the plot.

An eight-strong military jury yesterday found Hatley guilty of premeditated murder and conspiracy to commit premeditated murder after a three-day court-martial in Germany.

But the jury found him not guilty of premeditated murder in the January 2007 death of an Iraqi insurgent.

The 40-year-old career soldier, who has served in the first Gulf War, Kosovo and in Iraq, will be sentenced today at the US Army's Rose Barracks in southern Germany. He faces the possibility of life in prison without parole.

Army prosecutor Captain. Derrick Grace said testimony had pointed to "a complete breakdown of discipline and crimes that are among the worst of a soldier."

"On two separate occasions, the accused became the judge, jury and executioner," he said.