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Iraqis increase pressure on US to take action in Mahmudiya rape and murder case

[JURIST] Iraqi officials and local leaders have stepped up pressure on the US military to take swift corrective action in the face of allegations that troops raped an Iraqi woman and murdered her and her family near the town of Mahmudiya in March. Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki said Thursday "We will talk to the officials in the multinational forces to set rules... Our people cannot tolerate that every day there is an ugly crime such as that in Mahmoudiya". He called again for an independent Iraqi investigation [JURIST report] into the incident, saying, according to AP, "we want an investigation in order to know the facts...In addition to the investigation, we will discuss this matter with concerned sides to stop such practices that we see every day - crimes that stink." Maliki suggested that part of the problem lay in inadequate US appreciation of local circumstances and sensitivities: "There needs to be a plan to educate and train soldiers, and those who are brought to serve in Iraq shouldn't bear prejudices nor be reckless towards people's honour." AP has more. Reuters has additional coverage.

Maliki has already drawn support across party and religious lines in Iraq for a proposal to lift the immunity from Iraqi criminal prosecution that US troops currently enjoy. US troops are currently protected by CPA Order 17 [PDF text], written by the US-led Coalition Provisional Authority [official website], which exempts coalition forces, diplomats, and US contractors from the "Iraqi legal process." Sources have suggested that Maliki wishes to amend Order 17 when the UN resolution authorizing the US troop presence in Iraq is up for a renewal vote before the UN Security Council at the end of this year. The Washington Post has more.

Meanwhile at the local level, a statement issued Wednesday by clan chiefs and tribal leaders obtained by the Voice of Iraq news agency threatened violence if the US did not hand over the Mahmudiya offenders, evoking the 1920 revolt [Wikipedia backgrounder] against British occupiers and saying the clans "will take a stand that resurrects the history of forefathers if the U.S. government does not hand over this criminal and his comrades." VOI has more.

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