[JURIST] Relatives of four Iraqi citizens who were allegedly murdered by US soldiers in the town of Mahmudiya (also "Mahmoudiya") [JURIST news archive] are refusing US requests to exhume the bodies, complicating the US case against the six soldiers. No rape test was performed on the body of a 14-year-old girl who US officials believe was raped, forcing the prosecution to rely heavily on the suspects' accounts. Local Iraqi officials have opened an investigation into the case separate from that of the US military. Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki has called for an independent probe [JURIST report] and for an end to US troops' immunity under CPA Order 17 [PDF text], which exempts coalition forces, diplomats and US contractors from the "Iraqi legal process."
The US military charged [JURIST report] four soldiers with the rape and murder of the 14-year-old and the murders of her family, and a fifth with dereliction of duty for failing to report the crimes. The five, previously held by the military while under investigation [JURIST report], will now face Article 32 hearings [Navy JAG backgrounder] to determine whether they will face courts-martial. A sixth man, who was discharged from the Army before the allegations arose, was charged [JURIST report] in federal court with murder and rape. He has pleaded not guilty [JURIST report]. Reuters has more. AP has additional coverage.