[JURIST] Two US Marines charged [JURIST report] with the death of an Iraqi civilian in Hamdania [JURIST news archive] pleaded not guilty Wednesday to charges of murder and kidnapping. Pfc. John Jodka and Cpl. Marshall Magincalda are the first of eight soldiers from the Camp Pendleton [official website] military base to be arraigned in the April death of Hashim Ibrahim Awad [Wikipedia profile]. The soldiers allegedly shot Awad and then attempted to make it seem that he was an insurgent planting a roadside bomb by placing a shovel and rifle next to his dead body. In August, military prosecutors said they would not seek the death penalty [JURIST report] against the men, but if convicted, both could face life in prison.
The military judge presiding over the case also issued a temporary gag order Wednesday, prohibiting all attorneys from speaking to the media or releasing information regarding the case, and ruled that attorneys for Jodka and Magincalda will be permitted to travel to Hamdania and interview witnesses. Jodka requested to have his case heard before a panel of fellow Marines [official website] in his March trial, while Magincalda was permitted to delay deciding whether he would choose the same for his February case or whether he wanted the case to be heard by a military judge. Reuters has more.
10:13 AM ET – A lawyer for another soldier implicated in the Hamdania incident, Navy Petty Officer 3rd Class Melson J. Bacos, has said that Bacos will testify against the other seven soldiers in exchange for the dismissal of charges against him. The lawyer said Bacos will testify at court martial proceedings later this week and that murder charges against his client will be dropped. Bacos has also agreed to plead guilty to two lesser charges. AP has more.