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A mercenary , sometimes known as a soldier of fortune , is an individual who takes part in military conflict for personal profit, is otherwise an outsider to the conflict, and is not a member of any other official military. Beginning in the 20th century, mercenaries have increasingly come to be seen as less entitled to protections by rules of war than non-mercenaries. Indeed, the Geneva Conventions declare that mercenaries are not recognized as legitimate combatants and do not have to be granted the same legal protections as captured service personnel of a regular army.
Article 47 of the protocol provides the most widely accepted international definition of a mercenary, though not endorsed by some countries, including the United States. All the criteria a — f must be met, according to the Geneva Convention, for a combatant to be described as a mercenary.
That tribunal, using criteria in APGC77 or some equivalent domestic law, may decide that the soldier is a mercenary. At that juncture, the mercenary soldier becomes an unlawful combatant but still must be "treated with humanity and, in case of trial, shall not be deprived of the rights of fair and regular trial", being still covered by GC IV Art 5. If, after a regular trial, a captured soldier is found to be a mercenary, then he can expect treatment as a common criminal and may face execution.
As mercenary soldiers may not qualify as PoWs, they cannot expect repatriation at war's end. The best known post-World War II example of this was on 28 June when, at the end of the Luanda Trial , an Angolan court sentenced three Britons and an American to death and nine other mercenaries to prison terms ranging from 16 to 30 years.
The four mercenaries sentenced to death were shot by a firing squad on 10 July The legal status of civilian contractors depends upon the nature of their work and their nationalities with respect to that of the combatants. Article 1. The situation during the Iraq War and the continuing occupation of Iraq after the United Nations Security Council-sanctioned hand-over of power to the Iraqi government shows the difficulty of defining a mercenary soldier.