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Soldier in Iraqi-killing pleads guilty
The Australian
From correspondents in Kentucky
January 10, 2007

ONE of four US soldiers accused of killing three Iraqi detainees pleaded guilty to aggravated assault yesterday in a plea agreement at the start of his court martial.

Specialist Juston Graber, 21, pleaded not guilty to the most serious charges against him - including conspiracy to commit premeditated murder - a military spokesman at Fort Campbell in Kentucky said.

He pleaded guilty to one charge of aggravated assault with a dangerous weapon, under an agreement that will require him to testify against others accused in the case.

The three Iraqi detainees were killed May 9 during a raid on a suspected insurgent camp near Thar Thar Lake, southwest of Tikrit.

Those accused said the detainees were trying to escape when they were shot, but military prosecutors said they were freed before being killed.

The others charged with premeditated murder in the case: Staff Sergeant Raymond Girouard, Spc. William Hunsaker and Private Corey Clagett still face courts-martial at the Kentucky base, home of the 101st Airborne Division.

Prosecutors had said earlier that Graber appeared not to have taken part in the shootings but did kill one of the severely wounded men later because he was suffering and his life could not be saved.

A military judge took the case under advice to determine Graber's sentence.

Original Text