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THE WORLD

Case against U.S. officer in Iraq profiled

May 01, 2007|Tina Susman | Times Staff Writer

At the conclusion of the inquiry, the officer hearing the case, Col. Elizabeth Fleming, will decide whether to recommend a court-martial.

The hearing resumes today and is expected to include telephone testimony from witnesses who have returned to the United States.

Detention controversies

The case marks the latest controversy over the U.S. military's handling of detention facilities in Iraq. Several soldiers faced charges over their roles in the 2004 Abu Ghraib prison scandal in which Iraqi detainees were tortured and humiliated.

Also Monday, the military announced that an army medical officer, Lt. Col. James M. McCormick, pleaded guilty at an April 13 court-martial to two counts of willful dereliction. While working as a physician's assistant with Task Force 399th Combat Support Hospital, McCormick examined a female soldier without a chaperon present and without wearing gloves, the military said in a statement. He was sentenced to forfeit two months' pay totaling $13,552 and his activities were restricted for 45 days.

The U.S. military also said Monday that a Marine in western Iraq was killed during combat operations Sunday. The name was withheld pending notification of the family.

His death brought total U.S. fatalities for April in the Iraq theater to 104, making it the deadliest month this year and one of the worst since the U.S.-led invasion in 2003, according to icasualties.org, a website that tracks casualties in the war. Since the invasion, 3,351 American troops have died, according to the website.

April was even more devastating for Iraqi civilians. More than 1,500 were killed in bombings, assassinations and sectarian violence, according to figures from the Iraqi Health Ministry. An additional 2,334 were wounded, according to the ministry.

In addition, 127 Iraqi police officers and 63 Iraqi soldiers were killed in April, according to figures from the Interior and Defense ministries.

Insurgents continued their attacks Monday north of the capital, in restive Diyala province. A suicide bomber wearing an explosives-laden vest killed at least 32 mourners at a funeral for a Shiite Muslim man shot to death two days earlier.

Witnesses said the bomber walked inside a funeral tent in the city of Khalis, pretending to be a mourner. "He was a stranger," said Kareem Mansoor, a family member. "But we didn't do anything about it. Strangers come to funerals all the time."

Bomb includes chlorine

In the western Iraqi city of Hit, northwest of Ramadi, a truck bomb filled with explosives and chlorine gas exploded near a restaurant frequented by security officers of local Sunni Muslim chieftains. Ten people were killed and 10 injured, police said.

British and Iraqi forces in the southern city of Basra announced Monday that they had arrested a top leader in the militia of radical Shiite cleric Muqtada Sadr. Sayyid Sallih Jezzaani was wanted in connection with funding and organizing death squads and attacks against Iraqi and coalition forces. His arrest spurred protests in Basra.

susman@latimes.com

Times staff writer Edmund Sanders in Baghdad and special correspondents in Baqubah and Ramadi contributed to this report.

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