Jor­da­nian solider sen­tenced to life for killing three Amer­i­can sol­diers

Lodi News-Sentinel - - Sports - By Reem Saad and Omar Akour

AMMAN, Jor­dan — A mil­i­tary court con­victed a Jor­da­nian soldier Mon­day of killing three U.S. mil­i­tary train­ers at a Jor­da­nian air base and sen­tenced him to life in prison with hard la­bor.

The de­fen­dant, who had pleaded “not guilty,” has said he opened fire be­cause he feared the base was com­ing un­der at­tack.

As he was led out of the court­room, 1st Sgt. Marik al-Tuwayha said: “I have all the re­spect for the king, but I was do­ing my job.”

Rel­a­tives of two of the slain sol­diers sat qui­etly as the judge an­nounced his rul­ing to a crowded court.

Charles Lewellen, one of the be­reaved fa­thers, later told The As­so­ci­ated Press that the ver­dict “won’t take the pain away,” but that it proved “what we have been say­ing all along ... that he mur­dered our sons.”

Some of the rel­a­tives crit­i­cized Jor­dan’s han­dling of the case and called for the death penalty, say­ing the max­i­mum sen­tence in this case, life in prison, was not enough.

The three U.S. Army Green Berets were killed Nov. 4, as their con­voy waited at the gate to the al-Jafr base in south­ern Jor­dan. Jor­dan ini­tially said the Amer­i­cans trig­gered the shoot­ing by dis­obey­ing en­try rules, a claim that was later with­drawn.

The trial “con­firmed that the de­ceased U.S. ser­vice mem­bers fol­lowed all es­tab­lished pro­ce­dures when ac­cess­ing the base the day of the in­ci­dent, as we have noted be­fore,” the U.S. Em­bassy in Jor­dan said in a state­ment. “We are re­as­sured to see the per­pe­tra­tor brought to justice.”

The vic­tims were 27-yearold Staff Sgt. Matthew C. Lewellen of Kirksville, Mo,; 30-year-old Staff Sgt. Kevin J. McEn­roe of Tuc­son, Az.; and 27-year-old Staff Sgt. James F. Moriarty of Ker­rville, Texas.

Jor­dan is a mem­ber of a U.S.-led mil­i­tary coali­tion against Is­lamic State group ex­trem­ists in neigh­bor­ing Syria and Iraq. Jor­dan hosts troops, in­clud­ing train­ers, from the U.S. and other coun­tries as part of the anti-IS bat­tle.

The mil­i­tary court judge, Col. Mo­hammed al-Afeef, said at the start of the trial that the de­fen­dant had no known ties to mil­i­tant groups.

This left ques­tions about a pos­si­ble mo­tive.

The de­fen­dant and some of the gate guards tes­ti­fied that they heard what might have been a pis­tol shot com­ing from the di­rec­tion of the U.S. con­voy. The de­fen­dant said he opened fire be­cause he feared the base was com­ing un­der at­tack. Other guards said they held their fire be­cause they couldn’t de­ter­mine the source of the sound.

The de­fen­dant has said he had “no in­ten­tion of killing any­one” and felt no re­sent­ment to­ward Amer­i­cans.

How­ever, se­cu­rity cam­era footage of the in­ci­dent, as de­scribed by the be­reaved rel­a­tives, shows the shoot­ing lasted for six min­utes.

They have said the video shows the de­fen­dant reload­ing and shoot­ing at Amer­i­cans who were wav­ing their hands and yelling: “We’re Amer­i­cans! We’re friendly.”

The video was shown to the fam­ily by U.S. law en­force­ment, but has not been re­leased to the public.

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