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US military orders first court-martial for civilian contractor under amended law

[JURIST] A court-martial was ordered Sunday for Alaa "Alex" Mohammad Ali, a dual Iraqi-Canadian citizen working as a translator in Iraq. Accused of having committed aggravated assault in February in connection with the stabbing death of another contractor, he is the first civilian charged [JURIST report] by the military since a 2006 amendment [S 2766 materials] to the Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ) [text] granted the military jurisdiction over civilians accompanying US troops in a combat zone and the first civilian charged under military law since the Vietnam war. AP has more.

In 2007, Congress enacted the 2008 defense authorization bill [HR 1585 materials] as an additional measure [JURIST report] to bring all civilian contractors [Parameters backgrounder] in Iraq under the military's jurisdiction. Such prosecutions could not succeed previously [USAF guidance document] because of earlier court rulings [Grisham v. Hagan opinion text] that the military did not have jurisdiction over civilian contractors without a declaration of war by Congress.

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