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Initial probe into Haditha killings supports murder accusations: DOD official

[JURIST] The Naval Criminal Investigative Service (NCIS) [official website] has completed its probe into the deaths of 24 Iraqi civilians in Haditha [JURIST report] last November, and a Pentagon official indicated Wednesday that evidence supports accusations that US Marines from the Third Battalion, First Marine Regiment [official website] murdered the unarmed Iraqis. NCIS may be called on again to further investigate the incident if the commanding officer of the First Marine Expeditionary Force decides to press criminal charges against the Marines involved in the incident. A second NCIS probe into the Haditha incident is investigating whether commanders in Iraq deliberately covered up the Iraqi deaths [JURIST report], passing them off as the result of gunfire during conflict ensuing from a roadside bomb. AP has more.

In a related development, the US Marine Corps may be preparing unspecified charges against more four Marines arising out of a US military probe of seven Marines and one Navy corpsman charged [JURIST report] in June with murdering an unarmed man in Hamdania and then placing a rifle and shovel near his body to make him look like an insurgent preparing a roadside bomb. Defense coordinator Lt. Col. Colby Vokey said that he learned of the new charges when the military told him to find attorneys for the men. The military has not said whether the new charges will be connected to the Hamdania death or other incidents uncovered in the investigation. AP has more.

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