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Fifth US serviceman pleading guilty to Hamdania Iraqi civilian murder

[JURIST] US Marine Cpl. Trent Thomas is expected to plead guilty during a Thursday court hearing to unpremeditated murder charges stemming from the alleged murder of Iraqi civilian Hashim Ibrahim Awad [Wikipedia profile] in Hamdania [USMC timeline; JURIST news archive]. Awad was allegedly shot and killed by eight servicemen who allegedly left Awad's body by the side of the road with a shovel and AK-47, making him look like an insurgent. Thomas will be sentenced within the next several weeks.

Thomas is the fifth serviceman to plead guilty in the case, in which seven Marines and one Navy corpsman were originally charged [JURIST report]. US Marine Lance Cpl. Jerry E. Shumate Jr., Marine Pfc. John J. Jodka, Navy Petty Officer 3rd Class Melson J. Bacos, [JURIST reports] and Marine Lance Cpl. Tyler Jackson [advocacy website; JURIST report] have also pleaded guilty in exchange for their testimony in the case. All have named US Marine Sgt. Lawrence Hutchins III [JURIST report] as the mastermind of the plan. Jodka has been sentenced to 18 months in military custody while Jackson and Shumate [JURIST reports] have both received 21-months sentences. Hutchins faces court-martial [JURIST report] for murder, kidnapping and other charges. AP has more.

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