U.S. Soldier Gets Three Years in 'Misery' Killing of Iraqi Teen

U.S. Staff Sgt. Jeremy Horne has pleaded guilty to unpremeditated murder of a 16 year old Iraqi. Horne and another soldier came upon the wounded teen in a burning vehicle and Horne either ordered the teen shot or shot him himself to put him out of his misery. Horne received a three year sentence, a demotion to private, loss of wages and a dishonorable discharge.

The charges relate to the Aug. 18 killing of a 16-year-old Iraqi male found in a burning truck with severe abdominal wounds sustained during clashes in Baghdad's Sadr City, an impoverished neighborhood that was the scene of fierce fighting between U.S. forces and Shiite rebels loyal to anti-U.S. cleric Muqtada al-Sadr. A criminal investigator had said during an earlier hearing that the soldiers decided to kill him to "put him out of his misery."

Staff Sgt. Cardenas J. Alban, 29, of Inglewood, Calif., is also charged in the death. His case is pending.

Human rights groups have condemned the illegal killings of Iraqis either civilians or wounded fighters by the U.S. military, saying such acts amount to violations of international humanitarian rights and should be dealt with as war crimes. Critics also say poor understanding by young U.S. troops of the rules of military engagement leads to the killing of civilians.

"It doesn't help you win the hearts and minds of the public if you put a bullet in their hearts and another in the minds," said Mark Garlasco, senior military analyst for Human Rights Watch.

The teen was 16-year-old Qassim Hassan, who was working with relatives collecting rubbish. More details here.

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