KABUL): A US Army officer has been found guilty of murder for ordering troops under his command to shoot all Afghans they saw on motorbikes, media reported on Friday.
At the end of a court-martial at Fort Bragg in North Carolina, First Lt. Clint Lorance was convicted of a lengthy list of related, The Fayetteville (NC) Observer reported Lorance could be handed a life sentence.
Deployed to Afghanistan after serving in Iraq, Lorance was often aggressive toward Afghans, witnesses testified.
Days into new assignment in southern Afghanistan, the convict asked one of his soldiers to open fire on three men on a motorcycle in July 2012.
Two of the motorcyclists were killed and the third ran away. Attorneys for Lorance said he was trying to protect his unit.
The shooting triggered an extraordinary criminal investigation that unfolded largely unnoticed until a jury at Fort Bragg this week heard different accounts of the choices that Lorance made that day.
On Thursday evening, jurors convicted the 28-year-old of murder and sentenced him to 20 years in prison. The jury also ordered forfeiture of pay and his dismissal from the military.
According to the Associated Press, prosecutors said Lorance ordered his men to open fire immediately, in violation of the military’s rules of engagement, which requires soldiers to hold fire unless they have evidence of hostile action.
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