8 Marines face charges over POW abuse in Iraq

2 reservists accused of negligent homicide

October 19, 2003|By Tony Perry | Tony Perry,LOS ANGELES TIMES

CAMP PENDLETON, Calif. - Two Marines here negligent-homicide charges in the death of an Iraqi prisoner who had been left alone with other prisoners in that country after being interrogated, Marine officers said yesterday.

Six other Marines are charged with hitting and kicking prisoners and then lying about their behavior to military investigators. All eight belong to the 2nd Battalion, 25th Marine Regiment.

Maj. Clark A. Paulus and Lance Cpl. Christian Hernandez face negligent-homicide charges in the death of a 52-year-old Iraqi prisoner found dead in June at a prisoner camp run by the 1st Marine Division near the central Iraqi town of Nasiriyah.

The prisoner reportedly was left with other prisoners after being interrogated by U.S. military and intelligence personnel.

"My client is a Marine, and like all Marines, is a good combat soldier," said Donald Rehkopf Jr., who represents Lance Cpl. William Roy, accused of hitting and kicking prisoners. "My client denies the charges against him, and we will vigorously defend them in court."

Rehkopf, co-chairman of the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers' Military Law Committee, blamed the military for not providing training to the Marines on how to handle prisoners.

A Marine Corps spokesman released a list of names of those accused and their charges, but declined to comment further.

Three of the Marines have been ordered to a court-martial: Sgt. Albert Rodriguez-Martinez, charged with two counts of assault and one of lying; Lance Cpl. Andrew D. Rodney, charged with assault; and Lance Cpl. Konstantin Mikholap, charged with lying and two counts of assault.

The other Marines are charged but awaiting an Article 32 hearing, which will decide whether they will stand trial.

They include Paulus, charged with negligent homicide, assault, lying, cruelty and two counts of dereliction of duty; Hernandez, charged with negligent homicide, cruelty, dereliction of duty, and three counts of assault; Sgt. Gary Pittman, five counts of assault and two of dereliction of duty; and Maj. William F. Vickers, charged with dereliction of duty.

The Los Angeles Times is a Tribune Publishing newspaper.

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