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Top US officials in Iraq promise open probe into Mahmudiya rape, killings

[JURIST] US Ambassador to Iraq Zalmay Khalilzad and Gen. George Casey [official profiles], commander of US forces in Iraq, have promised an open investigation into the rape and murder of a young woman and her family in Mahmudiya [JURIST news archive], saying the alleged acts were "absolutely inexcusable and unacceptable." The rare joint statement from the two leaders issued Thursday comes amid an investigation into four soldiers in relation to the rape and murder of the Mahmudiya woman, as well as a probe into leadership failures that may have allowed the suspects to operate alone. Maj. Gen. William Caldwell said on behalf of Gen. Casey at a briefing Wednesday that the military takes allegations of wrongdoing "very seriously" [transcript], adding that "coalition leadership is committed to holding fair and impartial proceedings in full compliance with the Uniform Code of Military Justice," and that the they "remain confident the military justice system will ensure a fair result." Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki [BBC profile] has called for an independent probe [JURIST report] into the woman's death, as well as a review of mandates [JURIST report] that grant coalition forces immunity from Iraqi law.

Former Army soldier Steven Green pleaded not guilty [JURIST report] Thursday to rape and murder charges in relation to the allegations. Green, who was honorably discharged before the allegations arose, is said to have been the ringleader in the incident and has been charged [JURIST report; criminal complaint via FindLaw] in federal court. The civilian prosecution is authorized by the Military Extraterritorial Jurisdiction Act [PDF text], which gives civil courts jurisdiction over crimes committed by service members outside the US. Green agreed that his case would be prosecuted in the federal Western District of Kentucky [official website] after waiving both a detention hearing and a preliminary hearing. The complaint alleges that the soldiers had been drinking alcohol beforehand and had changed into civilian clothes, indicating that the alleged acts were not spontaneous. The other four suspects have been confined to a US base in Iraq, but their names have not been released. Green was arrested in North Carolina last week and was transported Thursday to Louisville. An arraignment is scheduled for August 8. AP has more. The American Forces Press Service has additional coverage.

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