[JURIST] The US Marine Corps on Wednesday charged seven Marines and one Navy corpsman with murder and kidnapping in connection to the April 26 death of an Iraqi man outside his home in Hamdania. The eight men allegedly dragged an Iraqi civilian outside of his home, shot him, and then placed an AK-47 rifle and a shovel near his body to make him look like an insurgent burying a roadside bomb. US commanders in Iraq ordered the Naval Criminal Investigative Service [official website] to investigate the incident [MNF-Iraq press release] late last month after local Iraqis told Marine leaders about it at a regularly scheduled May 1 meeting. After investigations began, the eight enlisted service members returned to San Diego-area Camp Pendleton, where they have remained pending the investigation and charges since May. The eight men will now be assigned military lawyers and the US military will likely begin Article 32 [JAG backgrounder; USMJ text] proceedings, similar to a grand jury investigation, which could lead to courts-martial.
The seven Marines from Camp Pendleton-based 3rd Battalion, 5th Marine Regiment [official website] and the Navy corpsman have also been charged with conspiracy and providing false official statements. A civilian lawyer representing one of the Marines announced in early June that charges were expected [JURIST report], though the military has taken longer than expected to charge the eight men. Defense attorneys representing two of the Marines claimed last week that NCIS interrogated their clients under coercive conditions [JURIST report], including making threats about the death penalty. The Hamdania probe is separate from a military investigation into the death of 24 Iraqi civilians in Haditha [JURIST report] last November.