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U.S. soldier convicted of beating Iraqi detainee with baseball bat


By Associated Press

FORT LEE, Virginia: A soldier was convicted Tuesday of brutally beating an Iraqi detainee with a baseball bat and attempting to cover it up. The verdict arrived just a day after his court-martial began.

A six-person military jury found Sgt. 1st Class Timothy L. Drake guilty of assault and two counts of making false statements, but acquitted the soldier on the charges of impeding the investigation and encouraging a fellow soldier to beat a detainee.

Drake was awaiting his sentence Wednesday evening.

Drake, 40, was accused of striking the detainee in December 2003 at Forward Operating Base Mercury, near the Iraqi town of Fallujah.

Spc. Angel M. Bonilla testified that he saw Drake strike a detainee with the aluminum bat. Afterward, he said Drake told him, "B, come get a piece of this."

Bonilla said he grabbed a bat from outside the tent and struck a second detainee. He said he regretted it afterward, but that he felt pressured to do it.

Drake, a senior food-service sergeant at that time, did not testify.

The defense rested its case Tuesday after putting only one witness on the stand. Maj. Michael A. Cortines, an Army physician, testified that detainees at Mercury received careful medical inspections when they arrived at the temporary holding facility and were examined daily by medical personnel.

Defense attorney Michael Waddington said Cortines' testimony supported the claim that no medical evidence existed that anyone was abused at Mercury.

The military judge dismissed one of the most serious charges against Drake Monday.

The dismissal of the bodily injury charge reduced Drake's maximum possible punishment from 21 1/2 years to 16 1/2 years. He also could get a reduction in rank, a dishonorable discharge and total forfeiture of pay and allowance, the Army said.

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