- President Donald Trump granted an executive clemency to former Lt. Michael Behenna, a US Army Ranger who was convicted of killing an Iraqi prisoner in 2008.
- Behenna was initially sentenced to 25 years in prison for the 2008 unpremeditated murder of Ali Mansur, but the sentence was reduced to 15 years.
- The White House highlighted the military’s "broad support" of Behenna, in addition to his time as a "model prisoner" at Ft. Leavenworth.
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President Donald Trump granted an executive clemency to former Lt. Michael Behenna, a US Army Ranger who was convicted of killing an Iraqi prisoner in 2008.
Behenna was initially sentenced to 25 years in prison for the 2008 unpremeditated murder of Ali Mansur, but the sentence was reduced to 15 years. After spending five years in prison at Ft. Leavenworth, Behenna was granted parole in 2015.
The White House highlighted the military’s "broad support" of Behenna, in addition to his time as a "model prisoner" at Ft. Leavenworth.
"In light of these facts, Mr. Behenna is entirely deserving," the White House said in a statement.
Behenna allegedly shot and killed Mansur in retaliation for a previous roadside bomb attack. The then-24-year-old officer lost two of his fellow soldiers in the attack.
Intelligence reports at the time indicated the Mansur may have been an al-Qaeda member who planned the bombing, according to The Washington Post. Mansur was brought in for questioning but was released after the military was not able to conclude he was involved in the attack.
US Army/Pfc. Sarah De Boise
Behenna eventually went out to interrogate Mansur again with an interpreter. Mansur allegedly threw a rock and appeared to grab his firearm during the questioning, according to Behenna.
"I stripped him naked to intimidate him," Behenna said, according to The Post. "I told him I wanted more intel on local leaders of al-Qaeda, and that I wanted him to tell me about his stops in Saudi Arabia and Syria, and the [roadside] bomb explosion. But he kept saying, ‘I don’t know. I don’t know.’"
Behenna reportedly shot Mansur and left his body without telling anyone. Mansur was found the next day and Behenna was taken into custody.
The interpreter at the scene disputed Behenna’s claims during his trial in 2009: "I started to interpret to the lieutenant that Ali Mansur is going to talk," the interpreter said. "At that time the lieutenant shot a bullet."
"Did you see Ali Mansur make any sudden movements," a prosecutor asked.
"No," the interpreter answered.
Behenna maintained that the shooting was in self-defense. He claimed he did not intend to kill Mansur, despite telling him "if I don’t get that information today, you will die today."
After Behenna was convicted, numerous high-ranking officers and politicians lobbied for his pardon. Behenna’s supporters claimed he was wrongly convicted and that prosecutors did not turn over evidence for his self-defense claim.
Behenna will regain several freedoms after Trump’s pardon, including the right to vote, the ability to run for public office, and participate as a juror in court.
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