Investigated Marines held at Camp Pendleton

/ Source: The Associated Press

Several Marines have been brought back from Iraq and placed in the brig at this Southern California base awaiting the outcome of an investigation into the death of an Iraqi civilian, a military official said Sunday.

No charges have been filed in the April 26 death at Hamandiyah, west of Baghdad.

Several Marines from the 3rd Battalion, 5th Marine Regiment, were placed in pretrial confinement and several are under pretrial base restrictions, a spokesman for the 1st Marine Division, 2nd Lt. Lawton King, said in a statement.

King would not say how many Marines were brought back from Iraq. The rest of the 3rd Battalion, 5th Marine Regiment, remains on duty in Iraq, he said.

Details of the Hamandiyah incident have not been released. The Los Angeles Times reported Sunday that investigators were trying to determine whether an Iraqi civilian was taken from his home and shot to death.

The newspaper, citing the Marines, said troops may have planted an AK-47 and shovel near the body to make it appear the man was an insurgent placing an improvised explosive device.

Iraqi civilians made the allegation during a meeting with Marine officers on May 1, five days after the alleged incident, the U.S. command said in a statement Wednesday. A preliminary investigation by Multinational Force-West found enough information to recommend an investigation by the Naval Criminal Investigation Service, the statement added.

King referred questions about the incident to Marine officials in Iraq. Military there said they could not confirm any details because the matter was still under investigation.

Marines suspecteed in Haditha killings
In a separate case, the NCIS is investigating members of the 3rd Battalion, 1st Marine Regiment, also based at Camp Pendleton, in connection with killings at the Iraqi city of Haditha.

A defense official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak publicly, told The Associated Press on Friday that evidence gathered so far strongly indicated that the Haditha killings were unjustified.

“Like the commandant of the Marine Corps, Marines aboard Camp Pendleton are concerned regarding allegations emanating from Iraq,” King said. “The Marine Corps prides itself on its history and its demanding moral code, and we will continue to ensure that all our values are upheld.”