U.S. soldier planted wire to fake victim was insurgent


A boy lies injured Saturday in a Baghdad hospital after a U.S. airstrike Friday in the Dora area of Baghdad.

CNN | Sep 29, 2007

BAGHDAD, Iraq (CNN) — An Army sniper was sentenced Saturday for tampering with evidence in the death of an Iraqi civilian, but was acquitted of his murder.

A military panel gave Spc. Jorge G. Sandoval, 22, five months in prison, a reduction in rank and a loss of pay for placing detonation wire on the body of a man killed April 27 to make the victim look like an insurgent, according to The Associated Press.

Sandoval had been charged with murder in that death and another on May 11, but the panel acquitted him Friday of those charges. Sandoval also was acquitted of planting an AK-47 rifle on the body of the second man and of failing to ensure humane treatment of a detainee.

During the court-martial, fellow soldiers testified that they and Sandoval, of Laredo, Texas, were following orders when they shot the unidentified Iraqi men near Iskandariyah, 30 miles south of Baghdad, according to AP.

Meanwhile, violence on Saturday took the lives of at least nine people in Iraq, six of them civilians, according to reports.

A suicide truck bombing killed three Iraqi soldiers and three civilians near Mosul, northwest of Baghdad, AP reported. Soldiers were pursuing the vehicle when it exploded, according to AP.

Also in Mosul on Saturday, a Sunni sheik was killed in a drive-by shooting and an Iraqi journalist died in a mortar attack on his home, according to Mosul police.

In central Baghdad, police said, a civilian was killed when gunmen opened fire at an Iraqi checkpoint, according to AP.

Also Saturday, a senior U.S. military official said the number of foreign fighters entering Iraq has been cut in half through improved border security.

Brig. Gen. Joseph Anderson, chief of staff for the Multi-National Corps in Iraq, said that from 60 to 80 foreign fighters had been entering Iraq each month, but the numbers have been reduced on all of Iraq’s porous borders.

“The effectiveness — between the Iraqi Department of Border Enforcement and our border transition teams — they’ve had great success at the standard border-crossing points, enforcing standards and monitoring what’s going on there,” Anderson said.

He said foreign militants are responsible for about 80 percent of suicide bombings in Iraq.

The topic came up as Anderson announced the death earlier this week of a senior al Qaeda in Iraq leader, a Tunisian who was considered the “emir of foreign terrorists in Iraq,” and close associate of the head of al Qaeda in Iraq, Abu Ayyub al-Masri.

Coalition forces killed the militant Tuesday in Mussayib, south of Baghdad, said Anderson, who emphasized the death is “a significant blow” to al Qaeda in Iraq — a Sunni-dominated militant group that takes its inspiration from Osama bin Laden’s al Qaeda.

Military commanders have said the leadership in the Iraqi group includes many foreigners while the rank and file is Iraqi.

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