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Iraq POW Death Leads To Charges

POW prisoners US iraq war
Eight Marine reservists face charges ranging from negligent homicide to making false statements in connection with the mistreatment of prisoners of war in Iraq, military officials said Saturday.

Two of the men were charged with negligent homicide in connection with the June death of an Iraqi who was held at a detention facility, said Marine Staff Sgt. Bill Lisbon, a spokesman at Camp Pendleton, where the reservists are being held.

Lisbon said Saturday he was unsure how many of the other six reservists had been charged in connection with that incident and would not say whether the man was the 52-year-old Iraqi prisoner of war whose death at a camp run by the 1st Marine Division near Nasiriyah was reported last June.

Maj. Clark Paulus and Lance Cpl. Christian Hernandez face negligent homicide charges. The other six face lesser charges involving mistreatment of prisoners.

"I think it's surprising because this is not what Marines do," Lisbon said. "They don't do what these guys are being charged with. Our reaction is that we are going to serve justice."

Paulus also faces two counts of dereliction of duty, one count of cruelty and maltreatment, one count of making a false official statement and one count of assault. Hernandez also faces one count of dereliction, one count of cruelty and maltreatment, and three counts of assault.

The others charged include: Maj. William Vickers, one count of dereliction of duty; Sgt. Gary Pittman, two counts of dereliction of duty and five counts of assault; Lance Cpl. William Roy, two counts of dereliction of duty, one count of cruelty and maltreatment, and five counts of assault; Sgt. Albert Rodriquez-Martinez, one count of making false official statements and two counts of assault; Lance Cpl. Andrew Rodney, one count of assault; and Lance Cpl. Konstantin Mikholap, one count of making false official statements and two counts of assault.

The eight belong to the 2nd Battalion, 25th Marine Regiment. It was not known if all had retained lawyers.

Attorney Donald Rehkopf Jr., who represents Roy, said his client is innocent.

He declined to discuss specific evidence, but said the Army is supposed to handle POW facilities and the Marine reservists were untrained for the job.

"In the rush to war with Iraq, providing the mandatory training to reservists seems to have had little if any priority with the Pentagon," Rehkopf told the Rochester Democrat and Chronicle in Saturday's editions.

The reservists "had no training at all. They were given a 30-minute training on the Geneva Convention," Rehkopf said. referring to the international accords for treatment of POWs.

Lisbon said the cases will be examined by the military equivalent of a grand jury, which will decide whether the men will be court-martialed.