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Four US soldiers to be court-martialed in Mahmudiya rape-murder case

[JURIST] Four US soldiers implicated in the rape and murder of a 14-year-old Iraqi girl [JURIST news archive] and the murder of her family in the Mahmudiya (also "Mahmoudiya") area in March have been referred to trial by general court-martial, military officials at Fort Campbell, Kentucky, announced Wednesday. Two of the soldiers, Pfc. Jesse Spielman and Sgt. Paul Cortez, could be sentenced to the death penalty if convicted of the murders, while the other two soldiers will not be eligible for capital punishment. Military prosecutors charged [JURIST report] the four soldiers in July; a fifth has been charged with dereliction of duty for failing to report the incident and making false statements. The initial four refused to testify [JURIST report] at their Article 32 hearing [Navy JAG backgrounder] in August. A now-discharged soldier, Steven Green [JURIST news archive], is facing civilian charges in North Carolina in connection with the same incident.

The Mahmudiya case has outraged Iraqi leaders [JURIST report], prompting Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki [official website] to launch an independent investigation [JURIST report] by Iraqis into the crimes allegedly committed by US troops. Reuters has more.

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