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US Marine refuses to testify about Fallujah killings, is jailed for contempt

[JURIST] A US District Court Judge Thursday ordered US Marine Corps Sgt. Ryan G. Weemer [JURIST news archive] jailed for refusing to testify about the deaths of Iraqi detainees during the Multinational Force-Iraq's November 2004 offensive [GlobalSecurity backgrounder] in Fallujah [USMC timeline; JURIST news archive]. Weemer reportedly refused to testify about the role of former Marine Sgt. Jose Nazario [JURIST news archive] before a federal grand jury Thursday in the alleged killings for fear of self-incrimination. Weemer, who at the time of the incident was a corporal, was charged [JURIST report] in March with one count of murder and one count of dereliction of duty. Last month, another marine, Sgt. Jermaine Nelson, was also jailed for contempt of court [LA Times report] for refusing to testify about the Fallujah incident. AP has more. The North County Times has local coverage.

In July 2007, the Naval Criminal Investigation Service (NCIS) [official website] announced investigations of at least 10 Marines [JURIST report] after Weemer admitted during a polygraphed job interview with the US Secret Service that he had witnessed indiscriminate killings in Fallujah. Military journalist Nathaniel Helms later corroborated that account, reporting that he witnessed Marines execute subdued Iraqi prisoners, whose bodies were later buried under rubble from an air strike. Last month, the Marine Corps said Nelson will face a court martial [JURIST report] later this year for murder. Also in May, a federal judge ruled that Nazario could stand trial [JURIST report] in civilian court over the deaths.

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