Private Jesse Spielman was found guilty of four counts of murder, rape, conspiracy to commit rape, and housebreaking with the intent to commit rape by a US military court in Kentucky yesterday over the March 2006 attack.
Abeer Qassim al-Janabiat, her parents and younger sister were shot dead in Mahmudiya, south of Baghdad. The crime outraged Iraqis and significantly increased tensions with US forces in Iraq.
''We were expecting the death penalty against those criminals and the place to carry out the sentence is where the incident happened,'' Janabiat's cousin, Abu Ammar, told Reuters.
Her uncle, Hadi Abdullah, said the family wished the sentence could be appealed so that the death penalty could be imposed for all those responsible.
Spielman, who received a dishonourable discharge after being found guilty, was one of five soldiers charged over the attack on Janabiat and her family. Three soldiers previously pleaded guilty and were given sentences ranging from five to 100 years.
The accused ringleader, former Private Steven Green, was discharged from the Army for a ''personality disorder'' and is awaiting trial in a civilian court, where he could face a possible death penalty.
The military court found Spielman participated in the planning of the attack as soldiers drank whiskey and played cards, and acted as a lookout. He pleaded guilty to wrongful touching of a corpse, arson, obstructing justice and violating rules against drinking alcohol in a war zone.
Mahmudiya Mayor Muaid al-Aamiri welcomed the long jail sentence but acknowledged that many local people wanted an even harsher penalty.
''Definitely it will deter whoever commits a crime and violates human rights,'' Aamiri told Reuters.
''Some people are happy and others want the death penalty because the crime is so ugly,'' he said.
REUTERS RSA BST1752