GI Convicted In Slaying Of 4 Iraqis

GENERIC: Iraq, War, Soldier, Soldiers, Troops CBS/AP

A U.S. Army master sergeant has been convicted of murder in the execution-style slayings of four bound and blindfolded Iraqi detainees in the spring of 2007.

A jury of eight Army officers and noncommissioned officers issued the verdict Wednesday against Master Sgt. John Hatley who was charged with premeditated murder and conspiracy to commit premeditated murder.

Hatley was found not guilty of premeditated murder in a January incident where a wounded Iraqi insurgent was shot and killed.

The 40-year-old soldier will be sentenced Thursday and faces the possibility of life imprisonment.

Hatley pleaded not guilty Monday to charges in both incidents.

Defense lawyer David Court argued Monday that there is no physical evidence incriminating Hatley, and the case thus far was based on contradictory prior testimony, and statements that witnesses admitted lying about — casting doubt on Hatley's murder charges.

"There is no autopsy, body or cause of death," he said. "There's no evidence that people died because of a shooting."

According to testimony at previous courts-martial, at least four Iraqis were taken into custody in spring 2007 after an exchange of fire with Hatley's unit, and the discovery of weapons in a building where suspects had fled.

The detainees were taken to the unit's base for questioning and processing, though there wasn't enough evidence to hold them for attacking the unit. Later that night patrol members took the men to a remote area and shot them so that they would not be able to attack U.S. forces again, according to testimony.

The bodies of the victims have never been found.

On March 30, Sgt. 1st Class Joseph Mayo was sentenced to 35 years in prison with the possibility of parole after he was convicted of murder in the spring incident.

Earlier this year, Pvt. Michael Leahy was convicted of murder and sentenced to life in prison with the possibility of parole for the spring incident. He was acquitted of murder in the January 2007 incident.

Two more soldiers pleaded guilty in the incident, one to conspiracy to commit premeditated murder and one to accessory to murder and were sentenced to prison for their role in the spring incident last year. Two others had charges of conspiracy to commit premeditated murder dropped this year.

All were with the 1st Battalion, 18th Infantry Regiment, 2nd Brigade, 1st Infantry Division. The unit is now part of the Germany-based 172nd Infantry Brigade.
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