Maliki challenges US on civilian killings

Here is a pretty good indication that the US is losing control of the client state it has set up in Iraq—which, in turn, is afraid of losing control of Iraq. And, since Maliki and his gang are more loyal to Tehran than Washington, this means the invasion of Iran can’t be far behind… From The Jurist, June 2:

New Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki [BBC profile] said Friday that he will ask the United States to turn over its files pertaining to the investigation into the alleged killing of 24 unarmed Iraqi civilians in Haditha by US Marines last November, after the Iraqi cabinet on Thursday decided to launch its own probe into the Haditha deaths. US Ambassador to Iraq Zalmay Khalilzad [official profile] said that no decision has been made on whether to turn over the files, but said that a meeting was planned Friday with the top US commander in Iraq, Army Gen. George Casey [official profile] to discuss the issue. Maliki has called the alleged Haditha killings a “horrible crime” [AP report], adding that the list of human rights violations by coalition forces in Iraq is “unacceptable.” The Iraqi government has also called for an official apology from the US after investigations are completed and for “generous financial compensations” to be paid to victims’ families. President Bush on Wednesday promised to punish any US forces found guilty of murdering Iraqi civilians, and it was reported Thursday that an independent military investigation will find that the Haditha killings were unprovoked. Reuters has more.

Meanwhile, the US military opened another investigation into the March death of 11 Iraqi civilians in Ishaqi, a town located 60 miles north of Baghdad. The investigation stems from a video handed over by a hardline Sunni group opposed to coalition forces depicting several dead adults and children with clear gunshot wounds. US officials contend that the deaths were the result of a firefight during a house search based on a tip that an al-Qaeda operative was at the house, and that the house collapsed, killing four people. The Iraqi police, however, reported that US troops deliberately killed 11 people before blowing up the building. BBC News has more.

11:37 AM ET – The Naval Criminal Investigative Service will exhume the bodies of the 24 civilians killed in Haditha as part of its investigation, the Washington Post reported Friday. NCIS investigators are hoping to gather additional forensic evidence, including the caliber of the bullets used and whether shots were fired at close range. The [London] Times has more. Meanwhile, the chairman of the Iraqi Human Rights Association condemned the killings of Iraqi civilians, saying that it seems as though civilian deaths at the hands of US forces is “a daily phenomenon.” AP has more.

See our last post on Iraq and the Haditha killings.

  1. Iraqi ambassador’s kin killed
    From Turkey’s Zaman, June 1:

    It has been revealed that among the 24 civilians murdered by US soldiers in the Haditha region of Iraq was a close relative of the new Iraqi Ambassador to the US, Samir Sumaidaie.

    CNN broadcast Sumaidaie’s statement a few hours after he presented his credentials to US President George W. Bush. Sumaidaie alleges that his 21-year-old cousin was killed “intentionally

  2. Another one…
    More from The Jurist, June 2:

    US military prosecutors plan to file conspiracy and murder charges against seven enlisted Marines and one Navy corpsman for the alleged murder of an Iraqi civilian and subsequent cover-up on April 26 in Hamandiya, according to a defense lawyer for one of the men involved. US commanders in Iraq ordered the Naval Criminal Investigative Service to investigate the incident [MNF-Iraq press release] late last month after local Iraqis told Marine leaders about it at a regularly scheduled May 1 meeting. The seven Marines allegedly dragged the man out of his house to shoot him, then placed an AK-47 and a shovel near his body to make him appear as though he were an insurgent burying a roadside bomb. The charges could come as early as Friday, but Marine officials will likely not release them until Monday. Some of the seven Marines from Camp Pendleton-based 3rd Battalion, 5th Marine Regiment and the Navy corpsman will face murder charges, while others will likely face charges for dereliction of duty and assisting in the cover-up.

    If military prosecutors do press charges, an Article 32 hearing [JAG backgrounder; UCMJ text], similar to a grand jury investigation, will be held for the Marines and Navy corpsman. At the hearing, the presiding officer will determine whether the case should proceed to court-martial. The probe into the death of the Hamandiya man is not related to the concurrent probes into the death of 24 Iraqi civilians [JURIST news archive] in Haditha last November. AP has more. The Los Angeles Times has local coverage.