[JURIST] Three US Army [official website] soldiers were charged with murder Wednesday for their alleged roles in the killings of four Iraqis in April 2007 [NY Times report]. Sgt 1st Class Joseph Mayo, Sgt John Hatley, and Sgt Michael Leahy Jr, who were formerly part of the 1st Battalion, 18th Infantry [unit website], were all charged with premeditated murder, conspiracy to commit premeditated murder, and obstruction of justice. The men are accused of blindfolding and shooting the Iraqis, then discarding the bodies in a canal near Baghdad. It is said the killings were committed as revenge for the January 2007 deaths of two US soldiers. Four other soldiers from that unit have been charged with conspiracy to commit murder in connection with the killings. The CBC has more. VOA has additional coverage.
Similar charges are pending in several other actions against US military personnel accused of wrongdoing during their service in Iraq. Eight US Marines were charged in connection with the November 2005 killings of 24 Iraqi civilians in Haditha [USMC timeline; JURIST news archive]. In June, a military judge dropped charges against battalion commander Lt. Col. Jeffrey Chessani [JURIST news archive] after Chessani faced court-martial [JURIST report] for dereliction of duty and violation of a lawful order based on allegations that he failed to properly investigate the Haditha shootings. Chessani was the highest ranking of the eight Marines initially charged in connection to the Haditha incident, and charges [text] have since been dropped against all but one. The court-martial of Staff Sgt. Frank Wuterich [defense website], leader of the squad implicated in the killings, was postponed indefinitely [JURIST report] in March. Also in June, US Marine Corps 1st Lt. Andrew Grayson [defense website; JURIST news archive] was cleared on all counts, including charges that he ordered a subordinate officer to delete photographic evidence [JURIST reports] of the killings.