U.S. soldier found guilty of killing Afghan civilian

By Tim Ghianni

NASHVILLE (Reuters) - A U.S. National Guardsman who shot an Afghan electrician in the head at close range last year was found guilty of premeditated murder on Wednesday in his court-martial at Fort Campbell, Kentucky.

Sgt. Derrick Miller will be sentenced in the near future, post spokesman Bob Jenkins said.

Prosecutors had argued that Miller shot and killed Atta Mohammed in September in Masamute Bala, Afghanistan, with a Beretta pistol. They said Miller took another soldier's weapon, straddled the man on the ground and then shot him.

Miller's attorney, Charles Gittins, had argued that Miller shot the Afghan civilian in self-defense and entered a plea of not guilty, saying his client had perceived the man a threat.

The slain man's son told a Reuters reporter a few months ago that, while he wasn't there at the time, his understanding was that his father was taken from his home by U.S. and Afghan soldiers, beaten in a school bathroom and then shot in the head.

Miller is a member of a Connecticut National Guard unit that is attached to Fort Campbell, a sprawling post on the Kentucky-Tennessee border. For the last few months, he has been assigned to a rear detachment at Fort Campbell.

According to Rick Rzepka, another Fort Campbell spokesman, the Guardsman was kept on active duty to stay at the post for the court-martial, but was not allowed to leave the post.

Details about the sentencing and where Miller is now will be released on Thursday, Jenkins said.

Fort Campbell is home to the 101st Airborne Division, which is now being rotated home from Afghanistan.

(Editing by Cynthia Johnston)

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