Lieutenant Gets 45 Days for Forcing Iraqis off Bridge
Army lieutenant Jack Saville, a West Point graduate, was sentenced to 45 days in jail and a sizable fine for forcing two Iraqi teenagers to jump off a bridge at gunpoint and another assault in a separate incident.
A U.S. Army lieutenant was sentenced on Tuesday to 45 days in jail and loss of $12,000 in pay for his part in assaults on Iraqi detainees that may have caused one to drown in the Tigris River. Army 1st Lt. Jack Saville pleaded guilty to assault for having two Iraqis thrown at gunpoint into the Tigris in Samarra, Iraq, in January 2004 and was convicted of lesser assault in a separate incident at Balad, Iraq, in December 2003.
Based on a plea agreement with prosecutors, he could have faced nearly two years in prison, but Col. Theodore Dixon gave him just 45 days and ordered his pay cut by $2,000 a month for six months.
In January, Saville’s co-defendant in the Tigris River incident, Army Sgt. Tracy Perkins, was convicted of assault and sentenced to six months in prison.
Both men initially faced manslaughter charges because one Iraqi tossed into the Tigris was believed to have died. But soldiers testified in Perkins’ trial that both men swam to safety and the death was faked. A judge’s order to confirm the death by exhuming what is said to be the body of the drowning victim was never complied with because of security problems, prosecutors have said.
Marwan Fadil, who survived the incident, testified in Perkins’ trial that he and cousin Zaidoun Hassoun, 19, begged for mercy and soldiers laughed as Hassoun drowned. They had been detained for violating curfew.
While this conviction is almost certainly a career ender, I’m baffled at the lightness of the sentence given these facts unless there is some incredible mitigation that’s not being reported. It would be one thing were this a young enlisted soldier. Saville, though, is an officer and a West Pointer, no less. He’s received extensive and systematic training in the laws of war.