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THE CONFLICT IN IRAQ

Accused Soldiers Identified

July 11, 2006|From Times Staff and Wire Reports

BAGHDAD — The U.S. military on Monday identified five soldiers charged in connection with the rape and slaying of a teenage Iraqi and the killing of three of her family members.

An Iraqi government official said Baghdad would ask the United Nations to end immunity from local law for U.S. troops, and a group linked to Al Qaeda claimed in a Web posting that it killed three U.S. soldiers last month in revenge for the alleged rape and slaying of the teen, whose age has been disputed.

At a news conference, Army Maj. Gen. William B. Caldwell IV said two sergeants were among the soldiers facing charges. The military identified the soldiers as Sgt. Paul E. Cortez, Sgt. Anthony W. Yribe, Spc. James P. Barker, Pfc. Jesse V. Spielman and Pfc. Bryan L. Howard.

Yribe is charged with dereliction of duty for allegedly failing to report the attack. The others face rape and murder charges. They will all face the equivalent of a military grand jury to determine whether they should be tried.

Steven D. Green, a former private, was charged last week in federal court in Charlotte, N.C., with one count of rape and four of murder. He is being held without bond.

In an interview a week after Prime Minister Nouri Maliki demanded a review of foreign troops' immunity, Human Rights Minister Wijdan Salim said work on a request to lift the protection was underway, and it could be ready by next month to go to the U.N. Security Council. U.S.-led forces in Iraq operate under the authority of a Security Council mandate.

The Mujahedin Shura Council, meanwhile, posted an Internet video that included the mutilated bodies of two of the soldiers attacked last month near Yousifiya, south of Baghdad, according to a statement by the SITE Institute, which monitors extremist websites.

According to the institute, the statement by the insurgent group said the video was released as "revenge for our sister who was dishonored by a soldier of the same brigade."

U.S. investigators have said there was no evidence linking the deaths of the three soldiers to the alleged rape-slaying.

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