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Last Updated: Sunday, 19 October, 2003, 05:54 GMT 06:54 UK
Marines held over Iraq POW abuses
US Marines near Iraqi base outside Nasiriya
US Marines met with stiff resistance in Nasiriya
The US military has charged eight Marine reservists, including two officers, in connection with mistreatment of Iraqi prisoners-of-war.

The eight served as part of the First Marine Division during the campaign to oust Saddam Hussein and guarded prisoners at a camp near the southern city of Nasiriya.

Two of the men were charged with negligent homicide in connection with the death of a captured Iraqi at Camp Whitehorse in early June.

Details of the incident remain unclear.

The eight Marines are now in custody at Camp Pendleton, a base outside San Diego, California, where they are undergoing pre-trial hearings.

A Marine spokesman, Staff Sergeant Bill Lisbon, said the cases would be examined by the military equivalent of a grand jury, which would decide whether to proceed to a court-martial.

The other charges include assault and dereliction of duty.

The most sweeping accusations were levelled against Major Clark Paulus, charged with negligent homicide, assault, cruelty and maltreatment, dereliction of duty and making false statements, Mr Lisbon said.

Lance Corporal Christian Hernandez was also charged with negligent homicide.

Donald Rehkopf, a lawyer representing one of the men, said the reservists had "no training at all" in running a detention camp, and had received just 30 minutes training on the Geneva Convention.

Military prosecutors allege that an Iraqi man named Nagem Sadoon Hatab died at Camp Whitehorse in early June, possibly following a beating by US guards.

But Mr Rehkopf, who will be defending Lance Corporal William Roy, said the circumstances of Hatab's death remained unclear.

Two other Iraqi prisoners from the camp insist they were beaten by US Marines, though they did not suffer serious injuries, the lawyer said.

The investigation was handled by the Naval Criminal Investigative Service.

In late July, the US Army filed charges against four military police members accused of hitting Iraqi prisoners and breaking their bones at Camp Bucca in southern Iraq.

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