Jordanian Soldier Sentenced To Life Of Hard Labor After Killing Green Berets

One was killed at the base and two others died later in hospital.

A Jordanian court on Monday sentenced a soldier to life imprisonment over the killing of three American military trainers outside an army base past year.

On Monday, a Jordanian Military Court issued a guilty verdict against Cpl.

Defence lawyer Subhi al-Mawas said he would appeal Monday's court ruling.

"We are reassured to see the perpetrator brought to justice", Eric Barbee, the US Embassy spokesman in Amman, told CNN. The conviction was made in the presence of the families of the victims.

"Despite this tragedy, Jordan remains a strategic partner", the embassy added. The kingdom hosts several hundred US contractors, and allows the United States to use Jordanian airfields.

A military court in Amman convicted the defendant, 39-year-old Maarik Al-Tawaiha, of premeditated murder, rejecting his "not guilty" plea and explanation that he opened fire on the U.S. troops out of fear that the base was coming under attack.

Jordanian authorities initially said that the US trainers were shot because they did not stop their vehicle as they drove into the gate, however, the United States disputed that claim and the Jordanian government later changed its position. But US officials disputed this and a subsequent US military investigation found surveillance footage of the event.

The trial, which lasted more than a month, did not establish a motive for the killings, but Jordanian officials said there was no evidence that al-Tawayha had ties to extremist groups.

While Jordan initially blamed the incident on Americans not following appropriate procedure, the trial concluded that Staff Sgt. Matthew Lewellen, Staff Sgt. Kevin McEnroe and Staff Sgt. James Moriarty did indeed abide by protocol.

In 2015, the United States said it would increase overall U.S. assistance to Jordan from $660 million to $1 billion annually for the period to 2017.

Jordan is a key USA ally in the region.

U.S. forces have trained a small group of vetted Syrian rebels in Jordan, and American instructors have also trained Palestinian security forces inside the kingdom.

Jordan, which hosts some 2,200 American military personnel, is a key American ally and a member of the US-led coalition fighting the Islamic State group in neighbouring Syria and Iraq.

Vanessa Coleman

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