Published: Mon, July 17, 2017
Worldwide | By Gretchen Simon

Jordan soldier jailed for life for killing United States trainers

Jordan soldier jailed for life for killing United States trainers

A Jordanian soldier is to serve a life sentence with hard labor for the premeditated murder of three USA soldiers at an airbase in Jordan previous year, according to Jordan's official Petra news agency.

Staff Sgt Moriarty's family had already expressed dismay at the prospect of a life sentence for Tuwayha, which is likely to be reduced to 20 years with good behaviour.

Jordan has ruled out terrorism in the November shooting in which the convoy of the U.S. Army Green Berets came under fire at the base entrance.

The prosecution in June accused al-Tawaiha of "voluntary manslaughter" over the deaths of Matthew Lewellen, Kevin McEnroe and James Moriarty. He was also found guilty of disobedience of military orders and dishonorably discharged. An intense firefight erupted when al-Tawayha - who was wearing body armor and carrying an M-16 rifle - opened fire on their vehicle as it stopped at the base's security gate.

Jordanian authorities initially said the trainers had been killed after they failed to stop.

Relatives of two of the dead soldiers sat quietly as the judge announced his ruling in a crowded courtroom. Relatives of the slain U.S. soldiers also had criticized Jordan's handling of the case.

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"We are reassured to see the perpetrator brought to justice", Eric Barbee, the US Embassy spokesman in Amman, told CNN.

Jordan is a member of the US-led coalition fighting the Islamic State group (IS) in Syria and Iraq, and U.S. forces have trained a small group of Syrian rebels in Jordan, as well as Iraqi and Palestinian security forces.

"We also request that Jordan allow the Federal Bureau of Investigation to reinterview M'aarek Abu Tayeh to see if he is ready to acknowledge why he chose to kill our sons", Moriarty wrote.

The court heard evidence from forensic experts and guards at the base. Three of the gate guards said they held their fire, but Tuwayha, who was in the guard house at the time, opened fire from inside before walking out and continuing to shoot.

Al-Tuwayha has said he had "no intention of killing anyone" and felt no resentment towards Americans.

His lawyer said the defense respects the court's decision, but that the verdict will be appealed.

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