U.S. soldier referred for court martial for 2009 Iraq shooting

Reuters News
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Posted: May 19, 2012 12:24 AM
U.S. soldier referred for court martial for 2009 Iraq shooting

SEATTLE (Reuters) - A U.S. soldier accused of shooting dead five fellow servicemen at a military clinic in Baghdad in 2009 has been referred to stand trial by military court martial, Joint Base Lewis-McChord said on Friday.

Sergeant John Russell, who could face the death penalty if convicted, faces five charges of premeditated murder, one charge of aggravated assault, and one charge of attempted murder.

Russell, of the 54th Engineer Battalion based in Bamberg, Germany, is accused of going on a shooting spree at a combat stress center at Camp Liberty, near the Baghdad airport, in May 2009.

Two of the five people killed in the shooting were medical staff officers at the counseling center for soldiers experiencing combat stress. The other three were Army enlisted soldiers in the center at the time of the shooting.

In the days following the shooting, then-chairman of the U.S. military's Joint Chiefs of Staff Admiral Mike Mullen said the incident highlighted the risks of multiple deployments on soldiers and the need to redouble efforts to deal effectively with combat stress.

No trial date has been set for Russell, of Sherman, Texas.

(Writing by Mary Slosson; Editing by Cynthia Johnston)