October 3, 2008, Berlin – A US soldier was sentenced to eight months in prison Thursday for his role in the killings of four blindfolded Iraqi detainees last year, an army spokeswoman said.
The defendant, Specialist Steven Ribordy, denied a direct role in the shooting deaths in March/April 2007 at the start of his court martial but pleaded guilty to accessory after the fact.
His sentence also included a reduction to the rank of private, forfeiture of all pay and allowances and a dishonorable discharge from the US army.
The US military court judge had recommended the soldier be jailed for four years but a plea agreement led to his term being reduced, a spokeswoman for the US 7th Army Joint Multinational Training Command, Denver Makle, told AFP.
“Because of the plea bargain he will serve no more than eight months,” she said, adding that he would serve his sentence in Germany.
The defendant, assigned to the 1st Battalion, 18th Infantry Regiment, was tried with three other US soldiers in Vilseck, southern Germany. Another three may still face a court martial.
Ribordy said as part of the plea agreement that he would testify in the remaining trials.
No further details on the case were immediately available from the court.
But US media have reported that the group killed four handcuffed and blindfolded Iraqi prisoners with pistol shots to the head beside a Baghdad canal.
The men were apparently Shiite fighters linked to the Mahdi Army militia, which controlled the West Rashid area of southwest Baghdad, the New York Times reported last month.
The killings were allegedly in retribution for an attack against the men’s unit.
The verdict came two weeks after another defendant in the case, Specialist Belmor Ramos, was sentenced to seven months’ prison for conspiracy to commit murder. He told the court he had stood watch while the men were shot.