Three US soldiers charged with murder of Iraqi men

Click to follow
The Independent Online

The US Army has charged three soldiers with murder following the death of three Iraqi men who were being held in military custody.

The deaths were in early May following an operation near the Thar Thar canal in Salahuddin province, north of Baghdad. Details of what happened have not been released but the soldiers charged apparently claimed that the men were trying to escape.

The US military in Iraq issued a statement last night that said the three soldiers, of the 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 101st Airborne Division, had been charged with murder, attempted murder, conspiracy, communicating a threat and obstructing justice. One of the soldiers is a non-commissioned officer.

On the day the alleged murders occurred, the unit commander ordered an inquiry, the statement said. It added that an investigation was launched on 17 May and was continuing. It said the men were being confined while it was decided whether to proceed to with a court martial.

The case comes as the US military is investigating other cases of alleged abuses, including the killings by American Marines of up to 24 unarmed civilians in their homes in the Iraqi town of Haditha last year.

The three-day military operation at Thar Thar was entitled Operation Iron Triangle and was hailed a success by US forces. At the time, it said 230 US troops and about 200 Iraqi soldiers had stormed the Muthana Chemical Complex, a sprawling plant closed after the fall of Saddam Hussein. It said 200 Iraqis were detained.

The investigation was requested by Lt-Gen Peter Chiarelli, the commander of multinational forces in Iraq, following a tip-off from other soldiers about the circumstances of the deaths of the three Iraqi men.