Jordanian Soldier Sentenced to Life in Prison for Killing US Trainers


A Jordanian military court convicted a Jordanian soldier of killing Lewellen and two other USA military trainers at a Jordanian air base previous year. He claimed that he had friendly relations with the USA soldiers, and no reason to kill them.

The military court in Amman found 39-year-old Maarik al-Tawaiha guilty of shooting the trainers as they waited to enter the King Faisal base at Al-Jafr in southern Jordan on November 4.

"I have all the respect for the king", Tuwayha said as he left the courtroom, Al Jazeera reported, "but I was doing my job".

Subsequently, Charles Lewellen, one of the bereaved fathers, said the verdict "won't take the pain away", but that it proved "what we have been saying all along. that he murdered our sons".

Jordan has ruled out terrorism in the November shooting in which the convoy of the US Army Green Berets came under fire at the base entrance.

Jordan, which hosts some 2,200 American military personnel, is a key American ally and a member of the US-led coalition fighting the Islamic State group in neighbouring Syria and Iraq. Amman has insisted, however, that several attacks carried out in the country over the past years had no links to terrorists and that the attackers were lone wolves with personal problems.

But video footage of the shooting, described by the relatives who have seen it, said the shooting lasted six minutes, and shows the defendant reloading his gun and shooting at the Americans, even as they waved their hands and yelled, "We're Americans!"

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Jordanian authorities initially claimed the USA nationals had been killed when their vehicle failed to stop.

But the U.S. embassy said the trial had confirmed Staff Sgt Matthew Lewellen, Staff Sgt Kevin McEnroe and Staff Sgt James Moriarty "had been following procedure" when they were killed, according to the Associated Press news agency. About 2,000 USA troops are in Jordan. He said the US respects Jordan's military process and praised Jordan for adhering to its own laws in resolving the case expeditiously.

The court heard evidence from forensic experts and guards at the base. Three of the gate guards said they held their fire, but Tuwayha, who was in the guard house at the time, opened fire from inside before walking out and continuing to shoot.

The defendant maintains that he had "no intention of killing anyone" and had no resentment towards Americans. These included allowing the defendant to be re-interviewed by the Federal Bureau of Investigation about his motive and releasing the security video to the families.

Cynthia Lewellen, 53, the mother of Matthew Lewellen, expressed sympathy for all those affected by the shooting, including the family of the defendant.

Monday's verdict is still subject to appeal, his lawyer Sobhi al-Mawas told Anadolu Agency.

A Jordanian soldier who killed three U.S. military trainers past year was jailed for life on Monday by a Jordanian court.