President Donald Trump has signed a full pardon for a former U.S. Army Ranger convicted of killing an Iraqi prisoner.
The White House announced Monday that Trump signed an executive grant of clemency, or full pardon, for Michael Behenna, 35, of Oklahoma. In 2009, a military court convicted Behenna of unpremeditated murder in a combat zone for shooting detainee Ali Mansur in 2008.
U.S. forces arrested Mansur shortly after a roadside bomb killed members of a platoon under Behenna’s command, The Washington Post reported. Military officials released Mansur because of a lack of evidence tying him to the explosion.
Behenna was ordered to take Mansur back to his village. Instead, Behenna took Mansur to a secluded culvert, stripped him naked and demanded more information from him, Behenna told The Washington Post in a 2018 interview.
Behenna said he shot Mansur when he lunged for his weapon.
Behenna was originally sentenced to 25 years. After being convicted, Behenna fought to overturn his sentence, claiming the prosecution had hidden evidence that would have benefited his case, The Post reported.
The Army Clemency and Parole Board later reduced his sentence to 15 years and paroled him as soon as he was eligible, WRC-TV reported.
Behenna gained wide support after his conviction, including from former Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin, Oklahoma Attorney General Mike Hunter and 37 generals and admirals, according to a statement from the White House.
The statement added that Behenna was a “model prisoner.”
“In light of these facts, Mr. Behenna is entirely deserving of this Grant of Executive Clemency,” the statement said.
The ACLU, however, has come out in opposition of the pardon, saying in a statement, "This pardon is a presidential endorsement of a murder that violated the military's own code of justice."
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