Military Investigates Alleged Killing in Hamdania

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While a great deal of attention has been paid to the investigation of alleged civilian killings in Haditha, Iraq, by Marines, another investigation is looking into the alleged killing of an Iraqi civilian in Hamdania.

RENEE MONTAGNE, host:

This is MORNING EDITION, from NPR News. I'm Renee Montagne with Steve Inskeep.

We've been following the investigations into the alleged killings of Iraqi civilians by U.S. troops. In a moment, we'll have a portrait of Haditha, where 24 Iraqis were killed last year.

First, we're joined by NPR Pentagon Correspondent Tom Bowman, who's been following another incident where Marines are being investigated. And, Tom, why don't you tell us quickly about that.

TOM BOWMAN reporting:

Well, Renee, this involves the incident in Hamdaniya on April 26. And the allegations are that Marines killed an Iraqi man on that date. And his name was Hashim Awad. And the latest in the case is that his body's been exhumed and is being flown to Dover, Delaware, where they have sophisticated labs and equipment; it'll be able to determine how he died and whether Marines killed him.

MONTAGNE: And this investigation, how long is it expected - will it take, do you think? And will it involve criminal charges?

BOWMAN: Well, we expected the investigation to be wrapped up this week. But now that they've exhumed the body and will examine it, it could take a little longer. But there are religious and cultural sensitivities here. They want to do it as quickly as possible and then return it to Iraq for reburial. And we've been told by a lawyer in the case that charges could come as early as this week.

MONTAGNE: And on to the question of the Iraqis allegedly killed by Marines in Haditha, are those bodies going to be removed and examined?

BOWMAN: Well, investigators are working with the families trying to convince them to exhume the bodies. So far, the families have said no. But they're working hard through the State Department and the military command there to try and get approval.

MONTAGNE: Is this a first, Iraqis allegedly killed by Americans being sent to the United States for examination?

BOWMAN: No. It's interesting, two years ago, four bodies were exhumed and returned to the United States, to Dover, Delaware, to this military mortuary. And this involved an incident in which Marines allegedly killed insurgents, unarmed insurgents at a mosque in Fallujah. And, interestingly, it involved the same battalion. But there were no charges filed as a result of that.

MONTAGNE: Tom, thanks very much.

BOWMAN: Thank you.

MONTAGNE: NPR Pentagon Correspondent Tom Bowman.

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