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US Marines court-martial begins in Hamdania Iraqi civilian murder case

[JURIST] The court-martial of US Marine Corps Cpl. Trent D. Thomas [advocacy website] for his alleged role in the 2006 kidnapping and murder of an Iraqi civilian in Hamdania [USMC timeline; JURIST news archive] began Monday, with the prosecutor asking jurors to convict Thomas on charges [JURIST report] of premeditated murder and kidnapping. Defense lawyers, who asserted that "Marines in combat don't challenge orders," argued that Thomas followed the orders of his superior, Sgt. Lawrence G. Hutchins III, who is also facing several charges [JURIST report] including murder. If convicted, Thomas, who previously pleaded guilty [JURIST report] to unpremeditated murder but subsequently withdrew his guilty plea [JURIST report], could face the death penalty.

Five defendants have pleaded guilty [JURIST report] in the death of Hashim Ibrahim Awad [Wikipedia profile], who was removed from his residence and killed, then arranged with a shovel and firearm to appear as if he were planting an improvised explosive device. The Uniformed Code of Military Justice Section 809 Art. 90(2), Art. 91(2), and Art. 92(1, 2) [texts] impose upon military personnel an obligation and duty to obey only lawful orders. Reuters has more.

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