A federal judge Thursday ordered two Marines released from jail despite their refusal to testify before a grand jury probing the alleged killing of four Iraqi prisoners by Marines during the battle for Fallouja in late 2004.
U.S. District Judge Stephen Larson said that Sgt. Jermaine Nelson and Sgt. Ryan Weemer are still in contempt of court, but that keeping them behind bars was futile. Their lawyers had argued that they would never testify before the grand jury, which in particular is looking at the actions of former Sgt. Jose Nazario.
Nelson and Weemer face charges in military court relating to the alleged killing of prisoners. Both had expressed concern that their testimony could be used by military prosecutors. Nelson also refused to testify because Nazario saved his life in Iraq.
Nazario faces manslaughter charges in federal court. He was no longer on active duty when the Fallouja investigation began. By law, the U.S. attorney has authority to charge ex-military personnel for alleged crimes committed during their service.