An Iraqi criminal court has convicted and sentenced five men to life in prison for the killing of Stephen Edward Troell, a U.S. citizen, in Baghdad last year. Troell, 45, was fatally shot in his car in November by assailants as he arrived at the street where he lived in Baghdad’s central Karrada district with his family. The murder of a foreigner in Iraq is a rare occurrence, as security conditions have improved in recent years.
Prime Minister Mohammed Shia al-Sudani referred to the killing as “a cowardly crime against an American citizen and resident of our country who is known amongst the community.” Troell was well-liked by his Iraqi neighbors and would greet a security guard in Arabic every morning on his way to work.
Two Iraqi intelligence officials, speaking on condition of anonymity, revealed that one Iranian and four Iraqis were convicted in the killing. The Iranian suspect, Mohammed Ali Ridha, was apprehended in the Iraqi city of Najaf after returning from Iran. The names of the four Iraqi convicts were not disclosed. The five convicted men are currently in detention, while others involved in the case have fled.
During the trial, the suspects testified that they shot Troell during a kidnapping attempt that went wrong. They stated that Troell was accosted by two cars, each containing four individuals, while others acted as lookouts.
Troell worked for Global English Institute, a language school in Baghdad’s Harthiya neighborhood, which operated under the auspices of the Texas-based private group Millennium Relief and Development Services. The group was known to conduct Christian missionary work alongside its development activities.
The U.S. Embassy in Baghdad referred inquiries regarding the convictions to the State Department in Washington. At the time of writing, a spokesperson from the State Department could not be reached for comment.