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More U.S. Soldiers Charged in Iraq Rape, Murder

RENEE MONTAGNE, Host:

This is MORNING EDITION from NPR News. I'm Renee Montagne.

STEVE INSKEEP, Host:

NPR Pentagon Correspondent Tom Bowman has been tracking the investigations. Tom, good morning.

TOM BOWMAN: Morning, Steve.

INSKEEP: Now, let's talk about this incident in Mahmoudiya. We've already heard of the charges against Steven Green. He's accused of pulling the trigger when this family was killed near a checkpoint. What did these other men who've now been charged allegedly do, as far as you can tell?

BOWMAN: What we understand is this all happened at a checkpoint, that the four of them went down to the house, and that Green shot some of the folks in the house. It was an Iraqi female, her parents, and 5-year-old sister. We believe that the others took part in the rape and the murder, and again, this final one was - failed to report the offenses.

INSKEEP: Is it normal in the military justice system that everybody involved within an incident would be charged with murder, even though most likely only one would have pulled the trigger?

BOWMAN: Well, it depends. We saw, in the Hamandiya case, that seven marines and a navy medic were charged with murder and kidnapping in that case. So, there are instances where they would charge everyone, and maybe not everyone pulled the trigger.

INSKEEP: Tom, I referred to the rape victim as an Iraqi girl. Did I use the right term?

BOWMAN: Well, I'm using the term Iraqi female, because her age appears to be in dispute. Army investigators have a birth certificate showing her at age 14. Neighbors say she was 15. But, commanders and military officials refer to her either as an adult female or a young woman. So again, her age is in dispute.

INSKEEP: Mmm. And obviously something that could add to the controversy there. Now, at the same time, Tom Bowman, I know you're following the investigation in Haditha, where as many as two dozen civilians were allegedly killed by marines. There's an investigation ongoing - more than one investigation - but a report expected out soon. What are you expecting to see?

BOWMAN: And there're really two main questions here. The initial report by marines was that one marine was killed in his Humvee, an additional 15 Iraqi civilians were killed - which raises the question, how could this marine have been in his Humvee and killed, and then an additional 15 Iraqis were killed? It just didn't make any sense. And what Bargwell will say is that they should have looked harder into this question. The other issue is that the Marines paid up 38,000 in condolence payments to the families here. So the question is, if you're saying the insurgents killed these folks, why were the Marines making these payments? So those are two main questions.

INSKEEP: When we hear about one investigation after another, many of us have to wonder why all this is coming to light now.

BOWMAN: So Corelli, I would say again, is - he understands how to fight the insurgency and is much more adept than maybe some of his predecessors.

INSKEEP: Tom, thanks very much.

BOWMAN: Thank you, Steve.

INSKEEP: That's NPR Pentagon correspondent, Tom Bowman. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

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Tom Bowman is a NPR National Desk reporter covering the Pentagon.
Steve Inskeep
Steve Inskeep is a host of NPR's Morning Edition, as well as NPR's morning news podcast Up First.