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Marine Corps rejects defense lawyer bid to visit Hamdania site of Iraqi civilian killing

[JURIST] The US Marine Corps has denied a request by defense lawyers representing seven Marines and a Navy corpsman accused of murdering an unarmed Iraqi man [JURIST report] in April to visit the Hamdania site where the alleged murder occurred. The lawyers requested a site visit in an effort to interview locals and view topographical details that are not accurately portrayed in photographs and may help them in their defense. The lawyers, who represent PFC John Jodka, claim that the photographs given to them by the military do not provide sufficient information to mount a defense. Marine Corps officials said the military will only grant a site visit to the defense attorneys if Article 32 [JAG backgrounder; USMJ text] proceedings, which are similar to grand jury proceedings, refer the charges to courts-martial for the eight men.

The eight men allegedly dragged an Iraqi civilian outside of his home, shot him, and then placed an AK-47 rifle and a shovel near his body to make him look like an insurgent burying a roadside bomb. US commanders in Iraq ordered the Naval Criminal Investigative Service [official website] to investigate the incident in May after local Iraqis told Marine leaders about it at a regularly scheduled May 1 meeting. After investigations began, the eight enlisted service members returned to San Diego-area Camp Pendleton, where they have remained pending the investigation and charges since May. AP has more.

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