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Prosecutors say US soldiers freed Iraqi detainees then shot them as they fled

[JURIST] A US military prosecutor said in closing arguments at an Article 32 hearing [JAG backgrounder; UCMJ text] Friday that four US soldiers should face court-martial for violating the laws of war by setting several Iraqi detainees free after a May 9 raid on a suspected insurgent camp near Samarra in Salahaddin province and then shooting them as they ran away. The soldiers - Pfc. Corey R. Clagett, Spc. William B. Hunsaker, Staff Sgt. Raymond L. Girouard and Spc. Juston R. Graber - face charges [JURIST report] of premeditated murder [JURIST report], attempted murder, and conspiracy, and could face the death penalty if convicted of premeditation. They also face obstruction of justice charges for threatening to kill another soldier, Pfc. Bradley Mason, if he told investigators of their alleged plans for murdering the detainees. Reuters has more.

The soldiers from the Third Brigade Combat Team of the 101st Airborne Division [GlobalSecurity backgrounder] claim they only shot at the prisoners as they tried to escape. They also claim they were ordered by their officers to "kill all military-aged males" in the raid. AP has more.

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