- Associated Press - Tuesday, May 13, 2014

WASHINGTON (AP) - The father of a U.S. soldier whose remains were found near Baghdad in 2008 said he urged an Iraqi judge at a hearing Tuesday to fully prosecute the insurgent accused of killing his son.

Keith Maupin, 63, of Cincinnati, participated by video teleconference from the Pentagon in the case of a man in Iraqi custody, whom U.S. officials say confessed to the killing of Sgt. Matt Maupin. The 20-year-old soldier was kidnapped when insurgents with rocket-propelled grenades and small arms ambushed his fuel convoy near Baghdad in 2004.

At the time, video of the young Maupin was released showing him sitting on the floor surrounded by masked gunmen. The soldier’s family held hope he was still alive, but Maupin’s remains were later found in a shallow grave near Baghdad in 2008.

On Tuesday, the initial hearing in the case was closed to reporters. Maupin said he appeared by videoconference and spoke via translator to the Iraqi judge, who asked to hear statements from the family. Maupin said he came away from the hearing feeling confident that justice will be served. The judge did not indicate how he might rule or when he might rule, but that the man will be punished if found guilty, according to Maupin.

The man in Iraqi custody was not present at the hearing.

“I made it clear to the judge that I feel this guy needs to be held accountable under Iraqi law,” Maupin said after the hearing. “If Matt’s death can benefit the Iraqi people by ensuring a strong justice system, it will be worth it even though he is gone.”

According to Iraqi authorities, the man is Iraqi and initially confessed to Maupin’s killing in 2009, when he was tried and sentenced to death. But, he is now being retried due to problems in the initial paperwork.

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