by Peter Bowes, Friday, 14 December 2007
BBC News, California
A US marine has been found guilty of killing an Iraqi soldier while they were on night-time patrol in Fallujah.
Lance Corporal Delano Holmes was convicted of negligent homicide, but was found not guilty of a more serious charge of unpremeditated murder.
Holmes told a military court in San Diego he stabbed the Iraqi private in a fight after suspecting he might be signalling to an insurgent sniper.
He now faces up to eight years in prison and a dishonourable discharge.
Holmes told the court he had had fought with Private Munther Jasem Muhammed Hassin while they had been on night-time sentry duty in Falluja.
He said he suspected that the Iraqi was signalling to insurgents with a lit cigarette and a mobile phone.
He told investigators that during the fight Pte Hassin reached for his AK-47 after refusing to put down the cigarette and phone.
Prosecutors accused Holmes of repeatedly stabbing the Iraqi solder with his bayonet. They said Pte Hassin was an ally of the United States, and there was no evidence he was anything but "a peaceful guy".
Holmes's defence lawyer told jurors the actions of the marine were "a perfectly reasonable application and escalation of force".
A post-mortem examination found that Pte Hassin had 17 stab wounds, 26 cuts and a gash that nearly severed his nose.
Holmes was also found guilty of lying to his superiors about the incident.
The five-day trial focused on the politically sensitive issue of how US marines interact with the Iraqi security forces.