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US soldiers charged in another shooting of unarmed Iraqi civilian

[JURIST] The US military announced Sunday that two US Pennsylvania National Guardsmen have been charged [MNF-Iraq press release] in connection with the February 15 shooting of an Iraqi civilian near a US military base at Ramadi west of Baghdad. Specialist Nathan B. Lynn has been charged with voluntary manslaughter, and is joined by Sergeant Milton Ortiz Jr on a charge of obstructing justice for allegedly conspiring with another soldier who put an AK-47 near the body of the man in an attempt to make him look like an insurgent. Ortiz is additionally charged with assault and one count of communicating a threat for allegedly placed an unloaded weapon against the head of an Iraqi man and threatening to send him to prison in a separate incident on May 8. Both soldiers await Article 32 [backgrounder] hearings and possible court-martial. The third soldier involved in the incident has left the Army and has not yet been charged.

The charges are the latest in a spate of legal actions and probes involving US servicemen for allegedly killing Iraqi civilians over the last few months. In mid-June, the US Army charged four soldiers for the deaths of Iraqi detainees [JURIST report; US Central Command press release on charging of fourth] in the northern Salahuddin province of Iraq. Last week seven Marines and a Navy corpsman were charged with murder and kidnapping [JURIST report] in connection with the April 26 death of an Iraqi man outside his home in Hamdania. Military investigations into the alleged killing of 24 Iraqi civilians [JURIST report] by Marines in the city of Haditha in November, 2005 are ongoing.

A US military spokesman said Sunday that some 350 innocent Iraqi civilians were killed by US troops at checkpoints or on convoys last year. AP has more. Reuters has additional coverage.

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