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Iraq PM asking for Haditha files as US investigates more killings

[JURIST] New Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki [BBC profile] said Friday that he will ask the United States to turn over its files pertaining to the investigation into the alleged killing of 24 unarmed Iraqi civilians [JURIST report] in Haditha by US Marines last November, after the Iraqi cabinet on Thursday decided to launch its own probe into the Haditha deaths. US Ambassador to Iraq Zalmay Khalilzad [official profile] said that no decision has been made on whether to turn over the files, but said that a meeting was planned Friday with the top US commander in Iraq, Army Gen. George Casey [official profile] to discuss the issue. Maliki has called the alleged Haditha killings a "horrible crime" [AP report], adding that the list of human rights violations by coalition forces in Iraq is "unacceptable." The Iraqi government has also called for an official apology from the US after investigations are completed and for "generous financial compensations" to be paid to victims' families. President Bush on Wednesday promised to punish any US forces [JURIST report] found guilty of murdering Iraqi civilians, and it was reported Thursday that an independent military investigation will find that the Haditha killings were unprovoked [JURIST report]. Reuters has more.

Meanwhile, the US military says it has opened another investigation into the March death of 11 Iraqi civilians in Ishaqi, a town located 60 miles north of Baghdad. The investigation stems from a video [BBC video] handed over by a hardline Sunni group opposed to coalition forces depicting several dead adults and children with clear gunshot wounds. US officials contend that the deaths were the result of a firefight during a house search based on a tip that an al Qaeda operative was at the house, and that the house collapsed, killing four people. The Iraqi police, however, reported that US troops deliberately killed 11 people before blowing up the building. BBC News has more.

11:37 AM ET - The Naval Criminal Investigative Service [official website] will exhume the bodies of the 24 civilians killed in Haditha as part of its investigation, the Washington Post reported Friday. NCIS investigators are hoping to gather additional forensic evidence, including the caliber of the bullets used and whether shots were fired at close range. The Times has more. Meanwhile, the chairman of the Iraqi Human Rights Association condemned the killings of Iraqi civilians, saying that it seems as though civilian deaths at the hands of US forces is "a daily phenomenon." AP has more.

5:05 PM ET - US military officials said late Friday that its investigation into the Ishaqi killings has shown that there was no misconduct and that troops followed normal procedures. The officials also said, speaking on condition of anonymity, that the US Army Criminal Investigation Command [official website] has reviewed the results and determined that there is no reason to investigate further. AP has more.

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