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    US pilots avoid court-martial over Canadian deaths
    The F-16 pilot who mistakenly bombed and killed four Canadian soldiers in Afghanistan will not face court-martial but non-judicial punishment instead.

    Lieutenant General Bruce Carlson, commander of the US 8th Air Force at Barksdale Air Force Base in Louisiana also announced that the pilot of a second F-16 that was present when the bomb was dropped will receive a letter of reprimand and allowed to retire.

    "The charges preferred against Major Harry Schmidt will not be referred to trial by court-martial," the air force said in a statement, referring to the pilot who dropped the bomb.

    "General Carlson has instead initiated non-judicial punishment proceedings under Article 15 of the Uniform Code of Military Justice," it said.

    Unless he demands a court-martial, Schmidt faces a maximum penalty of the loss of a half-month's pay for two months, confinement to quarters for 30 days, restriction to a specific area for 60 days and a reprimand.

    He and Major William Umbach, the other F-16 pilot, had been charged with involuntary manslaughter and assault, carrying a maximum penalty of 64 years in prison.

    Families of the victims of the bombing expressed disappointment, but not surprise.

    "They've got pilots flying over Iraq right now, and I don't think they're going to undermine the morale of their own pilots by court martialling other ones for what I'm sure is seen in a large part of the American military as an accident of war," said Margaret Decaire, whose son, Brian, was one of the victims.
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