[JURIST] The US military said Tuesday that it "is investigating an allegation of the unlawful use of force in the death of an enemy combatant." A US marine was videotaped by a news camera crew this weekend shooting a wounded, unarmed Iraqi prisoner in a Fallujah mosque who was said to be pretending to be dead. NBC News reporter Kevin Sites witnessed the incident:
Sites saw the five wounded men left behind on Friday still in the mosque. Four of them had been shot again, apparently by members of the squad that entered the mosque moments earlier. One appeared to be dead, and the three others were severely wounded. The fifth man was lying under a blanket, apparently not having been shot a second time.
One of the Marines noticed that one of the severely wounded men was still breathing. He did not appear to be armed, Sites said.
The Marine could be heard insisting: “He’s f—ing faking he’s dead — he’s faking he’s f—ing dead.” Sites then watched as the Marine raised his rifle and fired into the man’s head from point-blank range.
“Well, he’s dead now,” another Marine said.
When told that the man he shot was a wounded prisoner, the Marine, who himself had been shot in the face the day before but had already returned to duty, told Sites: “I didn’t know, sir. I didn’t know.”
According to the Central Command statement:
The purpose of this investigation is to determine whether the Marine acted in self-defense, violated military law or failed to comply with the Law of Armed Conflict. The Marine has been withdrawn from the battlefield pending the results of the investigation.
Based upon the investigation, the convening authority will determine the appropriate course of action.
"We follow the Law of Armed Conflict and hold ourselves to a high standard of accountability," said Lt. Gen. John F. Sattler, I Marine Expeditionary Force Commanding General. "The facts of this case will be thoroughly pursued to make an informed decision and to protect the rights of all persons involved."
Read the full press release. MSNBC has more. The International Committee of the Red Cross has background on international laws governing armed conflict.
9:32 AM ET – NBC now has edited video of the incident available online from Tuesday's Today program.