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No prison for contractor who killed Afghan

ALEXANDRIA, Va., May 10 (UPI) -- A U.S. judge has given a probationary sentence to an Army contractor who admitted shooting an Afghan man who had set a female colleague on fire.

Don Michael Ayala must spend five years on probation and pay a fine, Stars and Stripes reported.

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U.S. District Judge Claude Hilton found that the victim "did provide provocation and would have provided provocation for anyone who was there at the time." Paula Loyd, who worked with Ayala in Afghanistan, died at an Army hospital in Texas in January 2009, two months after she was burned by liquid that had been set on fire.

Ayala, a former U.S. Ranger, and Loyd were working with an Army Human Terrain Team 50 miles from Kandahar at the time of the attack.

Mike Rich, a federal prosecutor, argued for a custodial sentence.

"While his actions are understandable, they are not excusable," Rich said. "Defendant Ayala simply knew better."

The victim, Abdul Salam, was in handcuffs when he was shot, The Times of London said. He was a member of the Taliban posing as an ordinary Afghan and chatting with Loyd, an anthropologist, until he suddenly attacked her.

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