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Last Updated: Monday, 26 January, 2004, 11:41 GMT
US troops face Iraq abuse charges
File photo of US soldier leading an Iraqi prisoner at Abu Ghraib
Prisoners were allegedly mistreated
Four US marine reservists are due in a military court on Monday to face charges of abusing Iraqi prisoners.

The incidents are alleged to have happened last year at a detention facility in southern Iraq.

Two of them face charges of negligent homicide, arising from the death of a Baath Party official.

Lance Corporal Christian Hernandez and the camp's commander, Major Clark Paulus, are also accused of cruelty, assault and dereliction of duty.

Fifty-two-year-old Baath Party official Nagem Sadoon Hatab died in June in Camp Whitehorse, a makeshift prison set up to receive Iraqis captured during raids.

Lance Corporal Hernandez is alleged to have grabbed him by the neck and accidentally snapped a bone in his throat, according to the Marine Corps.

Prosecutors are expected to begin presenting evidence in a California court against Lance Corporal Hernandez, Major Paulus and two others.

The proceedings are part of an Article 32 hearing, the military equivalent of a grand jury.

The hearing will help commanders determine whether the four will go on to be court-martialled.

It comes days after the US military launched an investigation into alleged cases of abuse of prisoners at detention centres.

Three soldiers were discharged from the US army for mistreating Iraqi prisoners of war at the Camp Bucca detention camp in southern Iraq last May.

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