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Final court-martial in Samarra Iraqi detainee killings begins

[JURIST] Several US soldiers testified against their former squad leader Tuesday in a case relating to the killing of several Iraqi detainees [JURIST report] after a May 9, 2006 raid in Thar Thar, a town near Samarra in Iraq's Salahuddin province. Staff Sgt. Raymond Girouard faces court-martial on charges of premeditated murder [JURIST report] for his alleged involvement in the killings. Spc. William B. Hunsaker testified that Girouard told Hunsaker and Pfc. Corey R. Clagett to cut three Iraqi detainees loose and to shoot them as they ran. Hunsaker further testified that Girouard later cut Hunsaker across the face to create the appearance of a struggle.

Girouard, Hunsaker, Clagett, and Specialist Justin Graber were all charged [JURIST report] last June with premeditated murder related to the three killings. They first tried to cover up the murder [JURIST report], but later admitted their initial story was not accurate. All defendants but Girouard pleaded guilty to all charges. Hunsaker received an 18-year sentence as did Claggett [JURIST report], while Graber received a nine-month sentence for aggravated assault with a deadly weapon [JURIST reports]. A US Army investigator previously recommended the death penalty [JURIST report] for all four soldiers. AP has more.

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