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Courts-Martial Ordered in Iraq Bridge Incident

September 19, 2004|From Associated Press

FT. CARSON, Colo. — Two soldiers face courts-martial in the alleged drowning of an Iraqi civilian forced to jump off a bridge.

Sgt. 1st Class Tracy Perkins and 1st Lt. Jack Saville will be tried in a military court on charges of manslaughter, assault, conspiracy, making false official statements and obstruction of justice.

Perkins and Saville, who are based at Ft. Carson, face 5 1/2 years to 26 1/2 years in prison if convicted. No dates have been set for the courts-martial, ordered Friday by commanding officer Maj. Gen. James D. Thurman.

Capt. Robert Ayers, who presided over Perkins' hearings on the charges, had recommended the manslaughter charge be dropped because there was no proof that the Iraqi drowned. Ayers recommended the other charges go to court-martial.

The Army and family members of 19-year-old Zaydun Fadhil contend that he drowned Jan. 3 near Samarra when he and his cousin were forced to jump into a river.

The soldiers maintain that both Iraqis, who were stopped for breaking curfew, made it safely to shore.

Defense attorneys have disputed that Hassoun was killed. They said investigators bungled the case by not exhuming the body and doing an autopsy.

Investigators admitted they never saw the body, saying they relied on the word of relatives and a videotape made by the man's family that showed a corpse in a coffin.

Two other soldiers facing charges in the case were given "nonjudicial" punishment, the Army's out-of-court disciplinary system. Both were reportedly demoted one rank as well.

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