Wednesday, December 22, 2004

American soldier shoots Iraqi after sex

A National Guardsman who pleaded guilty to killing a 17-year-old Iraqi soldier said he shot the young man after they had consensual sex in a guard tower, a newspaper reported Saturday, citing court-martial records.

Pvt. Federico Daniel Merida, 21, pleaded guilty to murder without premeditation and other charges during a court-martial in Iraq (news - web sites) in September.

Merida was sentenced Sept. 25 to 25 years in prison and reduced in rank and will be dishonorably discharged. He is being held at Fort Leavenworth, Kan., a Leavenworth spokeswoman said.

Army officials at Forward Operating Base Danger, where the court-martial was held in Iraq, had previously withheld details of the case.

However, The News & Observer of Raleigh reported Saturday that records show Merida and the Iraqi were on guard duty May 11 in a tower on the perimeter of an Army camp near Tikrit in northern Iraq. At about 10:30 p.m., Merida shot the teen 11 times with his carbine.

Merida first told investigators the teen demanded money at gunpoint. Later, he said he killed the boy because he forced him to have sex. In a third interview, Merida said he got angry after the two had consensual sex.

Merida also pleaded guilty to two counts of giving false statements.

Merida apologized to the victim's family during the court-martial, records show. "He was a son, a brother, someone very important to them," he said. "I took someone they loved and cared for."

Merida, who was born in Veracruz, Mexico, has a wife and toddler son.