US President Donald Trump has granted a full pardon to a former soldier who was convicted in the 2009 killing of an Iraqi man in American custody.
First Lt Michael Behenna was sentenced to 25 years in prison for the murder of Ali Mansur, a suspected Al Qaeda terrorist shot during questioning.
Mr Trump signed a full pardon of Mr Behenna, who has served five years for unpremeditated murder in a combat zone.
Mr Behenna, released on parole in 2014, has said he acted in self-defence. The statement from White House press secretary Sarah Sanders on Monday announcing the pardon cites “broad support from the military, Oklahoma elected officials, and the public” for Mr Behenna, a “model prisoner” while behind bars.
Ms Sanders also notes “concern” on behalf of the US Army’s appellate court regarding how Mr Behenna’s claim of self-defence was handled.
This marks Mr Trump’s eighth pardon since taking office, as well as two commuted sentences. According to court documents, Mr Behenna and his platoon took Mr Mansur to a remote part of the Iraqi desert to question him about a previous attack on American soldiers. During the interrogation, Mr Behenna stripped Mr Mansur naked before shooting him in the head and chest. The case attracted attention across the US, drawing added focus to the treatment of detainees by the US military abroad.