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Eight marines investigation mistreatment prisoners { October 18 2003 }

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Eight Marine reservists under investigation for mistreatment of Iraqi prisoners-of-war
GREG RISLING, Associated Press Writer
Saturday, October 18, 2003
2003 Associated Press

(10-18) 18:12 PDT LOS ANGELES (AP) --

Eight Marine reservists accused in the mistreatment of prisoners of war in Iraq were being held Saturday at Camp Pendleton on charges ranging from negligent homicide to dereliction of duty, military officials said.

Meanwhile, a lawyer representing one of the men said the Army did not have the necessary personnel to run the detention camp and the reservists were untrained for the job.

"In the rush to war with Iraq, providing the mandatory training to reservists seems to have had little if any priority with the Pentagon," Donald Rehkopf Jr. said in a statement released Saturday.

A call to the Defense Department was referred to Camp Pendleton.

The reservists belong to the 2nd Battalion, 25th Marine Regiment. Their hometowns were not immediately released, and it was not known if all had retained lawyers.

Two of the men were charged with negligent homicide in connection with the June death of an Iraqi who was held at a detention facility, said Marine Staff Sgt. Bill Lisbon, a spokesman at Camp Pendleton.

Lisbon said Saturday he was unsure how many of the other six reservists had been charged in connection with the death. He would not say whether the man was the 52-year-old Iraqi prisoner of war whose death at a camp run by the 1st Marine Division near Nasiriyah was reported last June.

Maj. Clark Paulus and Lance Cpl. Christian Hernandez face negligent homicide charges. The other six face lesser charges involving mistreatment of prisoners.

"I think it's surprising because this is not what Marines do," Lisbon said. "They don't do what these guys are being charged with. Our reaction is that we are going to serve justice."

Paulus also faces two counts of dereliction of duty, one count of cruelty and maltreatment, one count of making a false official statement and one count of assault. Hernandez also faces one count of dereliction, one count of cruelty and maltreatment, and three counts of assault.

Under military directives, the Army is supposed to handle POW facilities, said Rehkopf, who is representing Lance Cpl. William Roy.

The reservists "had no training at all. They were given a 30-minute training on the Geneva convention," Rehkopf said, referring to the international accords for treatment of POWs.

Roy, 34, faces two counts of dereliction of duty, one count of cruelty and maltreatment, and five counts of assault.

Rehkopf said his client is innocent, but declined to discuss specific evidence.

The others charged include: Maj. William Vickers, one count of dereliction of duty; Sgt. Gary Pittman, two counts of dereliction of duty and five counts of assault; Sgt. Albert Rodriquez-Martinez, one count of making false official statements and two counts of assault; Lance Cpl. Andrew Rodney, one count of assault; and Lance Cpl. Konstantin Mikholap, one count of making false official statements and two counts of assault.

Lisbon said the cases will be examined by the military equivalent of a grand jury, which will decide whether the men will be court-martialed.

The investigation was handled by the Naval Criminal Investigative Service.

Roy, of Troy, N.Y., worked as a corrections officer for the Rensselaer County jail for the past two years before going to Iraq earlier this year.

Sheriff Daniel Keating declined to comment on the charges, but described Roy as "an excellent employee. He always performed within the rules."

Dorothy Roy also defended her son, calling him "a dedicated Marine."

"I know these things are not true and I know everything's going to turn out fine," Dorothy Roy said Saturday. "I stand beside him through thick and thin."

2003 Associated Press

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