Jordanian soldier gets life for killing United States troops

Life Sentence for Jordan Soldier In Killing of US Troops

Life Sentence for Jordan Soldier In Killing of US Troops

A Jordanian military court convicted a Jordanian soldier of killing Lewellen and two other US military trainers at a Jordanian air base a year ago.

The court indicated that the soldier violated the military orders as he did not report the incident to the higher commands as the shootout broke out at the military base in Al Jafer.

Tuwayha - who is not thought to have links to any militant groups - told the military court in the capital Amman he had opened fire after hearing gun shots.

The parents of one of the slain U.S. troops and the father and sister of another were present during Monday's session.

He did not react when the judge announced the verdict and the maximum possible sentence, life in prison with hard labour. The convicted was also fired from the military service, according to the court ruling.

Jordan then changed its position and charged the soldier, Sergeant Marek Sami Salem, with premeditated murder.

Tawaiha had been in custody since November but denied the charges.

Witnesses to the November 4 incident said that a four-car convoy was entering the base when Jordanian guards heard a low sound and thought it might be a pistol shot.

At that moment, there was "a low sound of gunfire from a distant and unknown source". Al-Tuwayha said he opened fire because he feared the base was under attack.

Relatives of the victims, who have described video of the scene, said the footage shows that Tuwayha was shooting for six minutes and did not stop even when the Americans identified themselves as allies.

It said he had disobeyed orders by failing to follow rules of engagement before opening fire.

Jordan had initially suggested that the US troops had triggered the shooting by entering the gate with improper procedures, a claim refuted by the USA and later withdrawn.

The King Faisal air base hosts trainers of various nationalities including Americans.

Jordan is a key ally to the United States in the region and part of a US -led military coalition in the fight against the Islamic State. In exchange, Jordan has provided facilities in country for USA forces to train Syrian rebels and from which American troops have carried out joint military exercises, according to Jane's Military Database.

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