WASHINGTON — Seven Marines and a sailor have been charged with murder in the April death of an Iraqi civilian, the Marine Corps said Wednesday.
All eight also were charged with kidnapping, according to a Marine statement issued at Camp Pendleton, Calif. Other charges include conspiracy, larceny and providing false official statements.
Separately, the U.S. military in Iraq announced that murder charges were filed against a fourth Army soldier in the shooting deaths May 9 of three civilians who had been detained by U.S. troops. Spc. Juston R. Graber, 20, of the 101st Airborne Division was charged with one count of premeditated murder, one count of attempted premeditated murder, one count of conspiracy to commit murder, and making a false official statement.
Accused held in military jail
On Monday the military had announced that three soldiers of the 101st Airborne Division were charged with murder and other offenses in connection with the May 9 killings. It was not clear why charges against the fourth soldier were not announced until Wednesday.
In the case of the April 26 killing of an Iraqi civilian, the allegation is that Marines pulled an unarmed man from his home in Hamdania and shot him to death without provocation. Seven Marines and one Navy corpsman from the Pendleton-based 3rd Battalion, 5th Marine Regiment were taken out of Iraq and put in the brig pending the filing of charges.
The Marine Corps identified the eight as: Marine Sgt. Lawrence G. Hutchins III, Marine Cpl. Trent D. Thomas, Navy Hospital Corpsman 3rd Class Melson J. Bacos, Marine Lance Cpl. Tyler A. Jackson, Marine Pfc. John J. Jackson, Marine Lance Cpl. Jerry E. Shumate Jr., Marine Lance Cpl. Robert B. Pennington, and Marine Cpl. Marshall L. Magincalda.
The case is separate from the alleged killing by other Marines of 24 Iraqi civilians at Haditha last November. A pair of investigations related to that case are still under way and no criminal charges have been filed.
The accused will be assigned military lawyers at no cost to the servicemen, although they have the choice of hiring their own civilian attorneys.
Also to follow will be decisions by Lt. Gen. John Sattler, the senior commander at Pendleton, on whether and how to proceed with preliminary hearings known in the military justice system as Article 32 proceedings. That in turn could lead to courts-martial for some or all eight.
On May 24, the Marines announced that Maj. Gen. Richard C. Zilmer, the commander of all Marine forces in Iraq, had asked for a criminal investigation after a preliminary probe found sufficient information to warrant further investigation.
Two cases criticized internationally
Together, the Hamdania and Haditha cases have generated international criticism of the U.S. and unfavorable publicity for the Marine Corps.
Video: Charges announced Gen. Michael Hagee, the Marine commandant, made a personal visit to Iraq to reinforce the importance of adhering to Marine ethical standards.
“As commandant I am gravely concerned about the serious allegations concerning actions of some Marines at Haditha and Hamdania,” Hagee told a Pentagon news conference June 7. “I can assure you that the Marine Corps takes them seriously.”
“As commandant I am the one accountable for organization, training and equipping of Marines,” he added. “I am responsible and I take these responsibilities quite seriously.”
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