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CRIME

US soldier in Bavaria guilty in quadruple Iraq murder case

A US military court in Germany convicted an American soldier of murder in the killings of four blindfolded Iraqi prisoners in 2007 on Friday.

US soldier in Bavaria guilty in quadruple Iraq murder case
US soldiers in Vilseck Photo:DPA

“A military panel just returned findings of guilty to premeditated murder and conspiracy to commit murder against Sergeant (Michael) Leahy,” Lieutenant Colonel George Wright told AFP.

“The panel has moved to the sentencing phase,” he said of the military court in Vilseck, Bavaria.

Leahy, one of several soldiers charged in the killings, could be jailed for life.

US media have reported that the group killed four handcuffed and blindfolded Iraqi prisoners with pistol shots to the head beside a Baghdad canal.

The men were apparently Shiite fighters linked to the Mahdi Army militia, which controlled the West Rashid area of southwest Baghdad, according to the New York Times.

The killings were allegedly in retribution for an attack against the servicemen’s unit. In October, another US soldier, Specialist Steven Ribordy, was sentenced to eight months in prison for his role in the killings as part of a plea deal.

He initially denied a direct role in the shooting deaths that occurred in the spring of 2007 but pleaded guilty to accessory after the fact.

OKTOBERFEST

IN PICTURES: First weekend of Munich’s Oktoberfest sees around 700,000 visitors

Around 700,000 people braved the wet and cold weather to attend the first weekend of the Oktoberfest beer festival in Munich, according to estimates by festival management.

IN PICTURES: First weekend of Munich's Oktoberfest sees around 700,000 visitors

That is significantly less than the around one million visitors seen in 2019, the last time the festival took place as the 2020 and 2021 editions were cancelled due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

READ ALSO: Germany’s famed Oktoberfest opens after two-year pandemic hiatus

“We want the weather gods to remember what decent Wies’n [Oktoberfest] weather looks like,” festival head and CSU politician Clemens Baumgärtner said, German news agency DPA reported.

Man and woman in lederhosen at Oktoberfest

A man and a woman in traditional Lederhosen and Dirndl dresses arrive for the opening of the Oktoberfest beer festival at the Theresienwiese in Munich on September 17, 2022.  (Photo by Christof STACHE / AFP)

The festival opened on Saturday and the first guests were already queuing outside the entrances before sunrise to secure their spot at the front of a beer tent when the site was opened. The first tents closed their doors around noon.

Oktoberfest costume parade

Participants of the traditional costume parade of the Oktoberfest beer festival arrive on September 18, 2022.  (Photo by Christof STACHE / AFP)

But the Schottenhamel tent (the oldest at the Oktoberfest) spokesperson, Christian Schottenhamel, said the numbers of people visiting the tents this year were similar to that seen in 2019, DPA said.

Oktoberfest costume parade

Participants dressed as fools perform during the festival’s traditional costume parade on September 18, 2022. (Photo by Christof STACHE / AFP)

He reported that the atmosphere was euphoric, with people just happy to be celebrating Oktoberfest again.

Oktoberfest beer tent visitors

The first visitors arrive and reserve places in a beer tent during the opening of the festival on September 17, 2022. (Photo by Christof STACHE / AFP)

The festival has attracted a mixed audience so far, including families with children and visitors from abroad, such as from the United States and France.

But the spokesperson for the smaller tents, Otto Lindinger, said the audience was getting younger, noting strong demand for meat-free dishes, although the Oktoberfest chicken was said to still be a hit.

Visitors celebrate at Oktoberfest

Visitors jostle for a Maß in a beer tent at the Oktoberfest on September 17, 2022. (Photo by Christof STACHE / AFP)

Over on the south side of the festival area, head of the museum tent Yvonne Heckl described the atmosphere in the traditional ‘Oide Wies’n’, or old Oktoberfest, area as “chilled and calm”.

The festival lasts until October 3rd, as German Unity Day falls on the Monday after the last Oktoberfest Sunday.

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