[JURIST] US Navy Petty Officer 3rd Class Melson J. Bacos, a hospital corpsman, pleaded guilty Friday to kidnapping and conspiracy charges [UCMJ text] in connection to the April 26 death of Iraqi civilian Hashim Ibrahim Awad [Wikipedia profile] in Hamdania. A total of eight US military personnel were initially charged [JURIST report] in the incident, in which they are said to have shot Awad and then made it seem that he was an insurgent planting a roadside bomb by placing a shovel and rifle next to his dead body. In exchange for the dismissal of more severe charges, including murder, Bacos will testify against the others - all US Marines - still under indictment. Bacos has been moved from Camp Pendleton to Marine Corps Air Station Miramar [official website] Friday out of concerns for his safety.
Bacos is the first serviceman to admit wrongdoing in the Hamdania incident [JURIST news archive]. Two of the Marines have already pleaded not guilty [JURIST report], and there is no word yet as to whether any others are negotiating a plea agreement. AP has more.