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Iraqi PM calls for independent probe of alleged US rape, killings at Mahmudiya

[JURIST] Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki [BBC profile] on Wednesday called for an independent Iraqi inquiry into allegations that US soldiers raped an Iraqi woman and murdered her and her family near the town of Mahmudiya in March. Al-Maliki said during a visit to Kuwait that he believes "immunity granted to international forces has emboldened them to commit such crimes" and called for a review of the UN Security Council [official website] mandate that grants coalition forces immunity from Iraqi law. Iraqi Justice Minister Hashim Abdul-Rahman al-Shebli has also demanded international supervision of the US probe [JURIST report]. Reuters has more.

US military officials have meanwhile said that their criminal probe [JURIST report] into the incident will focus on unit leadership to determine how the five soldiers suspected in the deaths were allowed to operate on their own. The suspects are in the same platoon as the soldiers who were abducted and killed [London Times report] in June after insurgents attacked a humvee that was also on its own. Because of the inherent danger in Iraq, regulations generally prohibit military vehicles from traveling alone. Marine Gen. Peter Pace [official profile], chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, promised on Tuesday to "get to the bottom" of the allegations and to hold service members accountable for their acts.

On Monday, federal prosecutors arrested former soldier Steven Green [JURIST report; press release] in connection with the rape and murder allegations. The criminal complaint [FindLaw image] alleges that Green was the ringleader of the four soldiers who took part in the violence while a fifth soldier remained in a humvee to stand guard. The complaint also alleges that the soldiers had been drinking alcohol beforehand and had changed into civilian clothes, indicating that the alleged acts were not spontaneous. Green, who was honorably discharged from the Army because of a personality disorder before the allegations arose, will have a preliminary hearing on July 10 in Charlotte before he is transferred to Louisville, KY, near Fort Campbell, where his former unit is based. The other four suspects have been confined to a US base in Iraq, but their names have not been released. The New York Times has more. AP has additional coverage.

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