Published: Mon, July 17, 2017
Global News | By Stacy Ballard

Jordan Hands Life Sentence To Soldier Who Killed US Trainers

Jordan Hands Life Sentence To Soldier Who Killed US Trainers

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

He did not react Monday when the judge announced the verdict and the maximum possible sentence, life in prison with hard labor.

Marik al-Tuwayha, who pleaded not guilty to premeditated murder, attacked the men as their vehicles approached al-Jafr airbase in November.

He maintained his innocence as he was being led out of the courtroom.

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Relatives of two of the USA soldiers sat quietly as the judge read the ruling.

Some of the relatives criticized Jordan's handling of the case and said the defendant should have received the death penalty.

The victims were 27-year-old Staff Sgt. Matthew C. Lewellen of Kirksville, Missouri; 30-year-old Staff Sgt. Kevin J. McEnroe of Tucson, Arizona; and 27-year-old Staff Sgt. James F. Moriarty of Kerrville, Texas.

In 2015, the United States said it would increase overall U.S. assistance to Jordan, which is hosting hundreds of thousands of refugees from the brutal war in Syria, from $660 million to $1 billion annually for the period to 2017.

In November 2015, a Jordanian police captain opened fire at a police training centre near the capital Amman, killing two Americans, a South African and two Jordanians.

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

"We are reassured to see the perpetrator brought to justice", Eric Barbee, the US Embassy spokesman in Amman, told CNN. They said the footage showed that the shooting lasted six minutes and that the video shows the defendant reloading his weapon and continuing to shoot as the USA service members waived their hands and yelled: "We're Americans!"

Al-Twayha claimed he had opened fire because e feared the base was coming under attack. Other guards said they held their fire because they couldn't determine the source of the sound.

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

Family members of the Americans have described surveillance video of the incident shown to them by US law enforcement but not publicly released, according to AP.

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