Sun 26 September, 2004 13:25
BAGHDAD (Reuters) - A U.S. soldier has been sentenced to 25 years in prison for the murder of an Iraqi National Guard soldier in northern Iraq earlier this year, the U.S. military says.
Specialist Federico Merida, from Briscoe, North Carolina, had pleaded guilty to murder and to making false official statements during his court martial, the Army said on Sunday.
As well as a prison sentence, he was dishonourably discharged and reduced in rank to private, a statement said.
Merida, 21, was assigned to the 30th Brigade Combat Team in Iraq, a unit attached to the 1st Infantry Division, which is based near Saddam Hussein's former hometown of Tikrit.
The military said no details of the May incident could be released until military judges had authenticated the court-martial decision, which is expected to happen shortly.
Merida will serve his sentence at the Fort Leavenworth federal military correctional facility in Kansas, the military said. It was not known whether he had already left Iraq to be taken to F ort Leavenworth.
Merida is not the only U.S. soldier to be charged with murder in Iraq -- two soldiers based in Baghdad were charged with premeditated murder for the wrongful deaths of three Iraqis last week.
The Iraqi National Guard is one of the main security forces being trained by the United States to take control of Iraq's security once U.S. troops have left.