BERLIN -- A U.S. army tank company commander convicted of shooting dead a wounded Iraqi walked free from court on Friday, although he was dismissed from the army for what he called a "mercy killing."
Army Captain Rogelio Maynulet had faced up to 10 years in jail after a court martial at a U.S. army base in Wiesbaden, Germany, found him guilty of assault with intent to commit voluntary manslaughter.
A U.S. army tank company commander convicted of shooting dead a wounded Iraqi walked free from court April 1, 2005, although he was dismissed from the army for what he called a 'mercy killing.' Maynulet arrives for an investigation at the U.S. Army Pioneer barracks in Hanau, September 10, 2004. Photo by Alex Grimm/Reuters
"He was sentenced with dismissal from the United States Army ... there will be no confinement time," a military spokesman said.
Prosecutors had pressed for conviction on a more serious charge of assault with intent to commit murder, which carries a maximum 20-year jail sentence.
The shooting occurred last May when U.S. troops were pursuing suspected militiamen supporting Shi'ite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr near the Iraqi city of Najaf, the court was told.
U.S. soldiers fired on a car, wounding the driver and a passenger. Maynulet said he then shot dead the driver to put him out of his misery.
"He was in a state I didn't think was dignified. I had to put him out of his misery," Maynulet said in his defense according to U.S. military's Stars and Stripes magazine.
The jury was shown footage of the shooting filmed by a U.S. surveillance drone.
The mercy killing argument was used by the defense in the cases of two U.S. soldiers who were convicted in December and January of murdering an Iraqi.
The man suffered severe abdominal wounds and burns when U.S. troops attacked a rubbish truck they suspected guerrillas were using.
Staff Sergeant Johnny Horne was sentenced to three years in jail and Staff Sergeant Cardenas Alban to one year over the Iraqi's death.
Local Iraqis said the men on the truck were innocent rubbish collectors.
© Reuters 2005.