US troops drowned my cousin, Iraqi tells hearing

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The Independent US

An Iraqi civilian yesterday told how he and his cousin were forced at gunpoint into the Tigris River by US troops who laughed as they struggled against the current. The man's 19-year-old relative drowned.

An Iraqi civilian yesterday told how he and his cousin were forced at gunpoint into the Tigris River by US troops who laughed as they struggled against the current. The man's 19-year-old relative drowned.

"He was calling my name, said 'Help me! Help me'," Marwan Fadel Hassoun told a military trial in Fort Hood, Texas.

Mr Hassoun was giving testimony on the second day of the trial of Sergeant Tracy Perkins, 33, who is accused of involuntary manslaughter, assault and obstruction of justice. He and another soldier, Lieutenant Jack Saville, 24, could receive up to 29 years in prison if convicted. Mr Saville's trial has been postponed until March.

Mr Perkins' defence has argued that Mr Hassoun's cousin, Zaidoun, did not die in the river. A judge has ordered that the teenager's body be exhumed for an post-mortem examination that should identify the cause of death.

Mr Hassoun said that he and his cousin had driven into the city of Samarra, north of Baghdad, when their truck broke down shortly before the nightly curfew in January 2004. He said that he was pushed into the river by a group of American soldiers.

Members of the platoon said the pair had been stopped when they were out after curfew and found with plumbing equipment that could be used to make bombs.

Sergeant Irene Cintron, an Army investigator, testified on Tuesday that she could not confirm whether the corpse shown in a video provided by the family was that of Zaidoun.

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