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Former US soldier who killed prisoner granted pardon

Behenna acknowledged during his trial that instead of taking the prisoner home as he was ordered, he took the man to a railroad culvert, stripped him, and then questioned him at gunpoint about a roadside bombing that had killed two members of Behenna's platoon

Donald Trump has pardoned a former US soldier convicted of killing an Iraqi prisoner.

The US president signed an executive grant of clemency, a full pardon, for former Army 1st Lieutenant Michael Behenna, of Oklahoma, on Monday.

Behenna was convicted of unpremeditated murder in a combat zone after killing a suspected al Qaida terrorist in Iraq.

A military court had sentenced Behenna to 25 years in prison, but the Army Clemency and Parole Board reduced his sentence to 15 years and granted him parole as soon as he was eligible.

The case attracted broad support from the military, Oklahoma elected officials and the public, White House press secretary Sarah Sanders said.

She added that Behenna was a model prisoner while serving his sentence, and “in light of these facts, Mr Behenna is entirely deserving” of the pardon.

Oklahoma’s two Republican senators, James Lankford and Jim Inhofe, hailed the pardon, thanking Mr Trump for giving Behenna “a clean slate.”

Behenna acknowledged during his trial that instead of taking the prisoner home as he was ordered, he took the man to a railroad culvert, stripped him, and then questioned him at gunpoint about a roadside bombing that had killed two members of Behenna’s platoon.

Behenna, a native of the Oklahoma City suburb of Edmond, said the man moved toward him and he shot him because Behenna thought he would try to take his gun.

Oklahoma’s attorney general first requested a pardon for Behenna in February 2018 and renewed his request last month.

Attorney General Mike Hunter said he believed Behenna’s conviction was unjustified because of erroneous jury instructions and the failure of prosecutors to turn over evidence supporting a self-defence claim.

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