VILSECK, GERMANY — An American soldier pleaded guilty Thursday to charges of accessory to murder and was sentenced to eight months in prison for his role in the killing of four Iraqi prisoners who were bound, blindfolded, shot and dumped into a canal.
Spc. Steven Ribordy, 25, of Salina, Kan., also will receive a bad conduct discharge as part of a plea deal. In addition, he agreed to testify against other members of his unit.
"The execution of prisoners is arguably the greatest crime," prosecutor Capt. John Merriam told the court. "It betrays everything soldiers stand for."
Ribordy testified that he had helped stand guard as the prisoners were killed by members of his patrol in early 2007. He said he approached the scene after the shots were fired and saw three bodies in a pool of blood, and then the fourth already in the canal.
Ribordy told the court he saw three members of the patrol -- Sgt. John E. Hatley, Sgt. 1st Class Joseph P. Mayo and Sgt. Michael P. Leahy Jr. -- and smelled gunpowder.
Ribordy said he helped push one body into the canal.
He told the judge, Col. Timothy Grammel, that he was now sorry for his actions.