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Court-martial ordered for civilian contractor

May 12, 2008|From the Associated Press

BAGHDAD — The U.S. military on Sunday ordered a court-martial for a civilian contractor charged with aggravated assault while working as an Army interpreter in Iraq -- the first such military prosecution since the Vietnam War.

Alaa "Alex" Mohammad Ali, who holds Iraqi and Canadian citizenship, is accused of stabbing another contractor four times during a fight Feb. 23 on a base near Hit, 85 miles west of Baghdad. The victim suffered chest wounds.

In 2006, Congress gave the military authority to prosecute civilians working for the armed forces.

Sunday's statement said Ali "is being afforded all the same rights, protections and privileges service members receive in military court, including the right to counsel, right to speedy trial, protection against self-incrimination and presumption of innocence."

He is being represented by military defense counsel, it added.

During the Vietnam War, several civilians working for the U.S. armed forces were charged with violations of military law. There were several convictions, which eventually were struck down by the U.S. Supreme Court.

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