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U.S. sniper sentenced
to time served

Los Angeles Times
November 9, 2007

U.S. sniper sentenced to time served

Michael Hensley is demoted and given a reprimand for planting a weapon by a slain Iraqi and disrespecting an Army officer.

By Ned Parker
Los Angeles Times Staff Writer

November 10, 2007

BAGHDAD A U.S. Army sniper cleared of murder charges was sentenced Friday to time served, given a reprimand and demoted on lesser charges of planting a weapon by the body of a slain Iraqi and disrespecting an officer.

Michael A. Hensley, from the 25th Infantry Division's 1st Battalion, 501st Infantry Regiment, was acquitted Thursday on charges of murdering three Iraqis in the spring. He had spent 135 days in detention when the trial finished.

In addition to the reprimand, Hensley was demoted from staff sergeant to sergeant. The reprimand in effect bars him from promotion. Before the sentencing, Hensley apologized to fellow soldiers for his actions, while his peers called him a model soldier.

Hensley's section came under investigation after two members told the Army's criminal investigation division that some of the platoon's snipers were shooting people and then planting weapons near the bodies.

The platoon's first lieutenant said in a deposition that some members of the unit also had been instructed under a classified "baiting program" to plant weapons in suspected insurgent areas and shoot Iraqis who tried to pick them up. U.S. military officers in Baghdad have denied the existence of any such program. The court barred most classified material from Hensley's court-martial.

One soldier from Hensley's unit, Jorge G. Sandoval Jr., was demoted from specialist to private and is serving a 44-day sentence for planting a detonation cord on the body of an Iraqi.

A pretrial hearing for Hensley's final co-defendant, Sgt. Evan Vela, is scheduled to begin Sunday.