Thu, Aug 03, 2006 - Page 7 News List

Four Marines to be charged over murder

AP , SAN DIEGO

Unspecified charges are being prepared against four US Marines as a result of an investigation that has already led to allegations that seven other Marines and a Navy corpsman murdered an Iraqi civilian, a Marine Corps official said.

It was not known if the four will face charges stemming from the April 26 killing of 52-year-old Hashim Ibrahim Awad, or if the charges will relate to separate incidents uncovered during that probe.

"There are four other [Marines] that are pending charges," Lieutenant Colonel Colby Vokey, the Marine Corps' defense coordinator for the western US, said on Tuesday. "For what, I don't know."

Two other attorneys defending suspects in the Iraqi civilian's death said they did not believe the charges were related to that case.

Three of the Marines are enlistees, one is an officer. All belong to the same platoon in Kilo Company of the Camp Pendleton-based 3rd Battalion, 5th Marine Regiment.

Vokey learned charges were imminent because he was instructed to find attorneys for the four men. He said he expects charges against the three enlisted Marines to be announced later this week.

The eight troops already charged with the kidnap and murder of Awad are in the Camp Pendleton brig.

Navy investigators claim that without provocation, the eight entered the Iraqi town of Hamdania, took Awad from his home, tied him up, put him in a hole and shot him.

After the killing, the troops placed an AK-47 in Awad's hands and put a shovel in the hole to make it appear Awad was an insurgent planting explosives, investigators allege.

Attorney Joseph Casas, who represents Private first class John Jodka, one of the eight in the brig, said the investigation details incidents separate from the killing in which the four other Marines allegedly engaged in misconduct.

"There are some allegations that indicate [the officer] and some of the other Marines were engaged in some prior bad acts," Casas said.

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