United States President Donald Trump has pardoned a former US soldier convicted in 2009 of killing an Iraqi prisoner, the White House announced.
- Michael Behenna was sentenced to 25 years in prison after killing Ali Mansur Mohamed, a suspected terrorist
- Mr Behenna said he acted in self-defence, and he was subsequently paroled in 2014
- The White House said Mr Behenna was a “model prisoner” and deserving of clemency
Mr Trump signed an executive grant of clemency — a full pardon — for former Army 1st Lieutenant Michael Behenna, press secretary Sarah Sanders said.
Mr Behenna, a platoon leader in the 101st Airborne Division, was convicted of unpremeditated murder and sentenced to 25 years after killing Ali Mansur Mohamed, a suspected Al Qaeda terrorist.
Mr Behenna, who stripped Mansur naked for questioning and then shot him twice, claimed he was acting in self-defence.
His sentence was subsequently reduced to 15 years and he was paroled in 2014, five years into his term.
“Behenna’s case has attracted broad support from the military, Oklahoma-elected officials, and the public,” the White House said in a statement.
Oklahoma Attorney-General Mike Hunter petitioned the White House for the pardon.
He said he believed Mr Behenna’s conviction was unjustified because of erroneous jury instructions and the failure of prosecutors to turn over evidence supporting a self-defence claim.
Mansur was captured by Mr Behenna’s soldiers and questioned by military intelligence in connection with a roadside bomb that killed two members of the platoon on April 21, 2008.
Mansur was ordered released due to insufficient evidence to hold him and Mr Behenna was tasked with returning him to his village.
During the operation, Mr Behenna stopped the convoy and questioned Mansur on the attack.
Mr Behenna said Mansur lunged for his weapon and he shot him in self-defence, according to testimony from his 2009 trial.
The White House said Mr Behenna was a “model prisoner” and “entirely deserving” of clemency.