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Decision on courts-martial in Mahmudiya probe set for September

[JURIST] US Army Major General James Thurman [official profile] will decide in September whether four US soldiers accused of raping and murdering [JURIST report] a 14-year old Iraqi girl and killing three family members in Mahmudiya [JURIST news archive] will face a court-martial, a US military spokesman said Wednesday. Thurman, who is the commander of the Army's 4th Infantry Division, is awaiting recommendations from a US military panel that oversaw the Article 32 hearing [Navy JAG backgrounder] for Pfc. Jesse Spielman, Spc. James Barker, Sgt. Paul Cortez and Pfc. Bryan Howard. A fifth soldier, Sgt. Anthony Yribe, also faces charges of dereliction of duty for failing to report the incident and making a false statement. The four core defendants have been charged with rape and murder, while former soldier Steven Green faces the same charges [JURIST report] in federal court because he was discharged from the Army before the allegations arose. During the Article 32 hearing, one witness testified that Green admitted to raping and murdering the girl, and implicated the other four in the incident, while another witness described the effect of combat stress [JURIST reports] on the troops in a particularly dangerous region of Iraq.

In a separate case, Thurman is also deciding whether to proceed with a court-martial for four US soldiers accused of killing three detainees on May 9 during a morning raid near Tikrit. Those four soldiers, who are charged with premeditated murder, refused to testify at their Article 32 hearing [JURIST reports] earlier this month. Reuters has more.

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