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Last Updated: Sunday, 12 August 2007, 23:44 GMT 00:44 UK
Marine freed in Iraq killing case
US Marine Lance Cpl Robert Pennington
Pennington expressed remorse over Mr Awad's death
A US marine who was sentenced to eight years in military jail for his role in the death of an Iraqi civilian has been released following a clemency decision.

Robert Pennington, 22, was jailed in February after pleading guilty to kidnapping and conspiracy in the 2006 killing of Hashim Ibrahim Awad, 52.

In exchange, prosecutors dropped murder and other charges. His rank was reduced and he was dishonourably discharged.

Of the eight members of the squad involved only one remains in prison.

In making the decision, Lt Gen James Mattis considered the defendants' ages, military experience, rank and involvement in the death, the marines said in a statement.

He reduced the sentences of Pennington and others to ensure fair treatment, the marines said.

The case is one of several in which US troops have been accused of killing Iraqi civilians.

Plea bargains

Investigators said the soldiers dragged disabled Mr Awad from his home and killed him in Hamdaniya in April 2006.

HAMDANIYA DEFENDANTS
Sgt Lawrence G Hutchins: Guilty of murder, conspiracy, making a false statement, theft; 15 years in prison
L Cpl Robert Pennington: Guilty of conspiracy to murder, kidnapping; eight years in prison, demoted; now free
L Cpl Tyler Jackson: Guilty of conspiracy to murder, kidnapping, making a false statement, housebreaking; 21 months in prison, demoted; now free
Cpl Marshall Magincalda: Guilty of conspiracy to murder, theft, housebreaking; 448 days in prison, demoted; now free
Petty Officer Melson Bacos: Guilty of conspiracy to murder, kidnapping, making a false statement; One year in prison, demoted; now free
Cpl Trent Thomas: Guilty of conspiracy to murder, kidnapping; demoted, dishonourably discharged; now free
L Cpl Jerry Shumate: Guilty of aggravated assault and conspiracy to obstruct justice; 21 months in prison, demoted; now free
Pte John Jodka: Guilty of aggravated assault and conspiracy to obstruct justice; 18 months in prison, demoted; now free

Murder and other charges were dropped in return for Pennington testifying against three other marines in the case. He was demoted from corporal to private.

Mr Awad, a police officer, was taken from his home, put in a hole and shot in the head 10 times.

A gun and a shovel were then placed by his body to make it look as if he were an insurgent planting a roadside bomb.

The unit was reportedly searching for an insurgent and took Mr Awad when they failed to find their target.

Pennington, the squad's radio operator, told the court martial that he did not shoot Mr Awad but that he helped to force him into the hole and held his hand over his mouth.

In February this year, he was sentenced to 14 years but the military judge dropped six years in return for the plea bargain.

Five of the eight soldiers originally implicated in the murder entered plea bargain deals with prosecutors.

Only one of the defendants remain in prison. Lawrence Hutchins, who was the only one convicted of murder, was sentenced to 15 years earlier this month.

His case is reportedly under review.


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