President Donald Trump signed an executive grant of clemency Monday for a former Army Ranger convicted in 2009 for the killing of an Iraqi detainee during deployment.
What are the details?
Former 1st Lt. Michael Behenna, 35, was issued a full pardon by the commander in chief, after serving five years in prison for unpremeditated murder in a combat zone. The Oklahoma native was initially sentenced to 25 years, but his sentenced was later reduced and he was released on parole in 2014.
Behenna has never denied killing suspected al-Qaeda terrorist Ali Mansur, but maintains he shot the prisoner in self-defense when the detainee reached for the soldier’s gun. The former Ranger admitted during his trial that he disobeyed orders to directly return Mansur to his village after questioning from military intelligence.
According to the Daily Mail, Behenna “took the Iraqi prisoner to a railroad culvert, stripped him naked, and then questioned him at gunpoint about a roadside bombing that had killed two members of his platoon.”
ABC News reported that in announcing Behenna’s pardon, White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders noted that when the soldier was released from prison, “Dozens of Patriot Guard motorcycle riders met Mr. Behenna to escort him back to his home in Oklahoma.”
“Behenna’s case has attracted broad support from the military, Oklahoma elected officials, and the public,” she continued, adding that he was a “model prisoner.”
The Mail pointed out that Oklahoma’s attorney general asked for Behenna’s pardon last year and made a second request last month. Oklahoma Sens. James Lankford (R) and James Inhofe (R) hailed President Trump’s decision on Monday.
Behenna issued a statement following his pardon, wherein he thanked President Trump “for his act of mercy” and asked his fellow Americans to remember his fellow soldiers who were killed in combat:
Although this is a time of great joy for my family, we as a country must never forget Adam Kohlhaas and Steven Christofferson and all those who gave their lives in service of this great nation. They represent the finest of our society, and their families will forever be in our thoughts and prayers.