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Law

GI pleads guilty to murdering Iraqi teen


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BAGHDAD, Iraq (CNN) -- A U.S. soldier pleaded guilty to murder charges Friday related to his role in the shooting death of a wounded Iraqi teenager.

Staff Sgt. Johnny M. Horne Jr., 30, of Winston-Salem, North Carolina, pleaded guilty to charges of murder and conspiracy to commit murder, the military said in a statement.

Horne is a member of Company C, 1st Battalion, 41st Infantry Regiment at Fort Riley, Kansas.

The military had previously charged Horne with premeditated murder, conspiracy to commit murder and solicitation of another soldier to commit premeditated murder.

The charges stemmed from a shooting August 18 in Baghdad's Sadr City neighborhood. U.S. troops and militia loyal to Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr had been engaged in regular, pitched battles.

The Los Angeles Times reported that Horne's regiment received a tip that militants on dump trucks were planting bombs along roads. The information later proved to be false, the paper reported.

But on that night, soldiers opened fire on a garbage truck staffed primarily with teenagers earning $5 a night to collect trash on the late shift, the Times reported. Witnesses told the Los Angeles Times that the dead teen was 16-year-old Qassim Hassan, who worked at night with his brother and cousins.

The Web site of Al-Jazeera, an Arabic-language broadcast network, reported early last month that seven Iraqi civilians died in the incident and about six suffered injuries.

Al-Jazeera and the Los Angeles Times said Hassan suffered serious injuries and that the military has characterized the boy's death as a "mercy killing."

Two other soldiers faced charges related to Hassan's death.

The plea occurred during a general court-martial at Camp Al-Tahreer in Baghdad.


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