The US State Department welcomed the Iraqi judiciary’s decision to convict and sentence an Iranian and four Iraqis on murder charges in the November 2022 shooting death of US citizen Stephen Troell in a Baghdad street.
The office of State Department spokesman Matthew Miller stated on Friday: “We appreciate the Iraqi court’s decision to convict and sentence multiple people on terrorism charges for their roles in the murder of US citizen Stephen Troell.
The statement added: “It is critical that all those responsible for the brutal, premeditated assassination of Mr. Troell face justice and accountability. We again extend our condolences to Mr. Troell’s family and hope this verdict brings them some measure of justice.”
The Iraqi judiciary issued a life imprisonment sentence against an officer of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard (IRGC) and four other Iraqis for their role in the case.
Troell was killed on November 7, 2022, by unknown gunmen while driving his car with his family near a market in Karrada in central Baghdad.
The killing was considered a clear message targeting the new government, which included most political parties affiliated with Iran.
But the Prime Minister, Mohammed Shia al-Sudani, ordered the Ministry of Interior to conduct a high-level investigation into the incident and to reach the perpetrators as quickly as possible.
According to the Ministry of the Interior, an intelligence work team followed up on the events. It investigated the incident for several days in different regions and places until it identified the perpetrators.
During the questioning, the perpetrators confessed to their crime, and the case was referred to the competent court.
The five men admitted that they intended to kidnap Troell for ransom and not to kill him.
The Ministry announced that the intelligence team is still looking for four other defendants.
Initially, the defendants’ nationality was not clear, and preliminary information indicated that they were Iraqis belonging to multiple factions.
According to circulating information, the Iranian convict sentenced to life imprisonment, Mohammed Ali Reza, works as an advisor at an Iraqi security service and resides in Baghdad.
Earlier, an unknown armed faction called “Ahl al-Kahf” Brigades claimed responsibility for killing Troell.
According to the armed faction’s statement, he was killed “in retaliation for the assassination of Qassem Soleimani, commander of the Quds Force, and Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, deputy head of the Popular Mobilization Forces (PMF).”
However, the Iraqi authorities ignored such allegations since the factions that possess weapons and influence are often known.
The security situation has improved in Iraq since the Baghdad government announced its victory over ISIS in 2017, but political violence continues.
After the October 2019 protests, many anti-authority activists were subjected to a widespread campaign of assassinations, kidnappings, and threats.
Activists accuse pro-Iranian groups, whose presence is considered essential in Iraq. They feel dissatisfied that no one has been held accountable for those crimes, according to Agence France Presse.
In July 2020, the expert in extremist movements and civil society activist, Hisham al-Hashemi, was assassinated in front of his home in Baghdad.
Legal expert Ali al-Tamimi explained that appeals for rulings issued by the criminal court, whether they are sentences or life imprisonment, are mandatory under Article 245 of the Criminal Code.
Tamimi told Asharq Al-Awsat that the case would be referred to the court of appeals, and the concerned body would issue its decision by agreement, or majority, to approve the initial sentence or reduce the sentence or order new investigations.
He explained that after the decision becomes final, a retrial can be requested if there is new evidence.