updated 1/15/2005 1:44:57 AM ET 2005-01-15T06:44:57

A U.S. military judge convicted an Army sergeant of murder Friday for the alleged mercy-killing of a severely injured Iraqi teenager, and sentenced him to a year’s imprisonment.

Staff Sgt. Cardenas J. Alban of Inglewood, Calif., is the second soldier convicted of shooting the wounded 16-year-old as U.S. forces battled an uprising in Baghdad’s Shiite Muslim stronghold of Sadr City in August.

Witnesses say U.S. soldiers found the teenager in a burning truck apparently set alight by fighting.

The Americans decided severe burns and abdominal wounds put the teenager beyond help and that “the best course of action was to put (the victim) out of his misery,” a criminal investigator has said.

A judge convicted Alban of murder and conspiracy to commit murder during a one-day hearing Friday in Baghdad, the military said in a statement. He was sentenced to one year’s confinement, demotion to private, and a bad-conduct discharge.

Staff Sgt. Johnny M. Horne Jr., also with the Fort Riley, Kan.-based 41st Infantry regiment, was sentenced in December to three years in prison after pleading guilty in the same killing.

Separately, Army Capt. Rogelio Maynulet of Chicago faces a Feb. 22 court-martial in Germany for allegedly shooting and killing a man who was gravely wounded when U.S. fighters opened fire on his vehicle last May south of Baghdad.

A fellow officer told a preliminary military hearing that dispatching the wounded man was “the compassionate response” on Maynulet’s part.

Rights groups criticize the court-martials for illegal killings of Iraqis, saying the slayings violate international law and should be tried as war crimes. Critics also accuse the U.S. military of hazy training on the rules of engagement that they say contributes to the illegal killing of civilians.

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