Seven U.S. Marines and one navy sailor were charged with murder, kidnapping, and conspiracy Wednesday over the April death of a disabled Iraqi man in Hamandiya, while a fourth soldier also was charged with murder in the deaths of three Iraqis in May.
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And with me to discuss the murder charges filed today against seven Marines and one sailor, and other incidents, is New York Times Pentagon correspondent Eric Schmitt.
Eric, first describe the incident that is alleged to have taken place on April 26th?
ERIC SCHMITT, New York Times:
The incident, Jeffrey, involves the seven Marines and one Navy Corpsman who are alleged in a pre-dawn raid to have pulled a 52-year-old Iraqi man from his home in this little village just west of Baghdad, near Abu Ghraib, actually, to march him out of house, to bind him, bind his feet and his hands, and to shoot him.
And then, basically, what they did was they buried him and then planted a shovel and an AK-47 automatic rifle next to him to make it look like he had been an insurgent who was killed in a gun battle. That was the story the Marines originally told. That quickly unraveled, however, and these guys have now been charged.
Now, my understanding is that it was family members of the Iraqi, Hasham Ibrahim Awad, his family members who went to authorities to tell them what happened. What do we know about the investigation and the evidence that has been found?
Well, that's correct. The family members came forward, as well as a neighbor who was — the Marines came and took the shovel and the rifle from. So they are also charged with larceny in this.
So the family members came forward, told this story. They ultimately had to go retrieve the body of their family member. Investigators quickly seized on this. And, again, when confronted, at least one or two of the Marines quickly confessed and their story unraveled.