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Two US Marines held in contempt in Fallujah killings civil trial

[JURIST] A judge for the US District Court for the Central District of California [official website] found two US Marines in contempt of court Friday after the two declined to testify against their former squad leader in a trial over the killing of Iraqi detainees during the Multinational Force-Iraq's November 2004 offensive [GlobalSecurity backgrounder] in Fallujah [archived USMC timeline; JURIST news archive]. Judge Stephen Larson held Sgt. Ryan G. Weemer [JURIST news archive] and Sgt. Jermaine Nelson in contempt after the two invoked their Fifth Amendment [text] right against self-incrimination when asked to testify against former Marine Sgt. Jose Nazario [JURIST news archive] in his civil trial [JURIST report]. Assistant US Attorney Jerry Behnke asked Larson to sentence the men to six months in jail in order to compel their testimony, but the judge refused even though he had previously sentenced [JURIST report] the men to jail for refusing to testify to a grand jury about the same events. A hearing is set for September 29 on the contempt charges. AP has more. The Los Angeles 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 in a job interview with the US Secret Service that he had seen indiscriminate killings in Fallujah. Both Weemer and Nelson face court-martial on charges of murder and dereliction of duty [USMC charge sheet] as active members of the military in connection with the same incident as Nazario. They were indicted in March [press release; JURIST report] and December [JURIST report] respectively.

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