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Last Updated: Wednesday, 1 August 2007, 02:15 GMT 03:15 UK
Tillman case general is censured
The late American football star-turned-soldier Pat Tillman
The truth about Pat Tillman's death was concealed for weeks
A former US army general has been censured over the handling of a friendly fire incident in which an American football star died.

Pat Tillman - who was regarded as a hero for enlisting after 9/11 - was killed in Afghanistan in April 2004.

But it only became clear five months later that his death was as a result of friendly fire.

A panel found Lt Gen Philip Kensinger guilty of deception and of making false statements about Cpl Tillman's death.

Gen Kensinger, who was head of army special operations at the time of Cpl Tillman's death, will now be referred to a special review board for a possible demotion.

It's a perfect storm of mistakes, misjudgements and a failure of leadership
Pete Geren, Army Secretary

Such a move would cut the former three-star general's retirement benefits.

Six other senior officers have also been reprimanded over the affair.

Army Secretary Pete Geren told reporters at a Pentagon briefing: "General Kensinger was the captain of that ship, and his ship ran aground.

"It ran aground because he failed to do his duty."

Mr Geren said he had considered recommending a court martial for the former three-star general, who retired last year.

He added: "It's a perfect storm of mistakes, misjudgements and a failure of leadership."

'No cover-up'

The military panel found that Gen Kensinger had deceived investigators and failed in his duty to inform Cpl Tillman's family how he died.

But while Gen Kensinger had been "guilty of deception", the military panel found no attempted cover-up by the army.

The official reprimand for Gen Kensinger states: "Your failings compounded the grief suffered by the Tillman family, resulted in the dissemination of erroneous information and caused lasting damage to the reputation and credibility of the US army."

Cpl Tillman, who turned his back on a lucrative football contract to join the military following the September 11 attacks, became a national hero after his death.

The army kept to its story that the soldier had been killed by enemy fire for a month, during which time Cpl Tillman was posthumously awarded the Silver Star, a top US military gallantry award.

Fifth deployment

Meanwhile, a reservist who sued the US military for ordering him to a fifth war zone deployment said he had been deemed medically unfit and released from active duty.

Sergeant Erik Botta had been ordered to deploy to Iraq, after three previous tours of duty in that country and one in Afghanistan.

He had argued the move was unconstitutional and did not take account of his previous deployments.

Kevin Tillman gives evidence at the congressional panel

US army 'exploited Tillman death'
25 Apr 07 |  Americas
US army faulted in Tillman case
26 Mar 07 |  Americas
US army reviewing combat deaths
25 Aug 06 |  Americas
Army 'hid truth of Tillman death'
05 May 05 |  Americas

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