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Iraqi lawyer related to Haditha victims blasts $2,500 US 'compensation' payments

[JURIST] An Iraqi lawyer related to several Iraqi civilians who were among the 24 allegedly killed by US Marines in Haditha [JURIST report] last November denounced the US military Saturday via videotape, claiming US "compensation money" of $2,500 per victim to the families of each casualty were insufficient. Khaled Salem Rsayef also claimed that during the initial meeting between the Haditha families and US military officials in November the two sides clashed as officers present told family members that the Haditha victims had been killed by an insurgent's roadside bomb, not gunfire from the US military. AP has more.

Iraqi lawyers and family members of Iraqi civilians killed or injured have previously expressed frustration [New Standard article] with the US compensation process [2003 DOD backgrounder; 2003 HRW backgrounder; OW/NADHRI report, PDF] for "wrongful death". Payments technically provided as "sympathy" or "solace" by local US commanders without admission of legal liability are limited to a maximum of $2,500 per individual, and under the US Foreign Claims Act [text] which authorizes payments, the US has no obligation to pay if a claim "did not arise from action by an enemy or result directly or indirectly from an act of the armed forces of the United States in combat." Claims for compensation in access of $50,000 are adjudicated by the US Army Claims Service [official website].

The Iraqi cabinet decided to launch its own probe into the Haditha killings Thursday, prompting new Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki [BBC profile] to announce [JURIST report] Friday that he will ask the US to turn over its files on the investigation.

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