British sniper faces retrial for owning Iraqi gun

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A British Special Forces sniper was told Wednesday he will face a retrial after he was briefly jailed for possessing a gun given to him as a gift by Iraqi troops he helped to train.

Sergeant Danny Nightingale, 38, a veteran of the conflicts in Afghanistan, Bosnia and Northern Ireland, was sentenced to 18 months in military detention last November but freed three weeks later when judges suspended his sentence.

His case had sparked an outcry in Britain, with supporters declaring his conviction a betrayal of a war hero and member of the elite SAS regiment who has served the British army for 17 years.

More than 100,000 people signed a petition for his release.

Nightingale’s conviction was quashed in March, but a judge at a military court in Bulford, southern England, ruled Wednesday that a retrial was in the public interest.

Nightingale’s family said they were “bitterly disappointed” by the ruling.

Speaking outside the court, the sniper said of his ongoing legal ordeal: “I wouldn’t wish it on anyone’s family -- it’s horrible.”

Nightingale on Wednesday pleaded not guilty to illegally possessing a Glock 9mm pistol and more than 300 rounds of ammunition.

The father of two has admitted owning the gun and ammunition, but suffered a brain injury affecting his memory and claims he forgot he had them.

Iraqi soldiers gave him the weapon as a gift in 2007 before he returned home to Britain.

The gun was found in Nightingale’s army accommodation while he was on tour in Afghanistan in 2010, and he was flown home and charged.

Nightingale’s wife Sally led a nationwide campaign for his release, which gained the support of lawmakers and former Special Forces officers.