CAMP PENDLETON, Calif. – Eight Marine reservists stationed at Camp Pendleton (search) have been charged in connection with the June death of an Iraqi man who was held at a detention facility in Iraq, authorities said.
Two of the men, Maj. Clark A. Paulus and Lance Cpl. Christian Hernandez, face negligent homicide charges, said staff Sgt. Bill Lisbon, a Marine spokesman at Camp Pendleton. Charges against the other six range from assault to dereliction of duty.
"I think it's surprising because this is not what Marines do," Lisbon said Friday. "They don't do what these guys are being charged with."
All eight men, who belong to the 2nd Battalion, 25th Marine Regiment, are being held at Camp Pendleton.
Attorney Donald Rehkopf Jr., who represents another Marine reservist charged in the case, Lance Cpl. William Roy, said his client is innocent.
He declined to discuss specific evidence, but said the Army is supposed to handle POW (search) facilities and the Marine 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 (search)," Rehkopf told the Rochester Democrat and Chronicle in Saturday's editions.
It was not immediately clear who the others' lawyers were.
Lisbon acknowledged the charges stemmed from a case in which an Iraqi man died while being detained by U.S. authorities. He would not, however, say whether the case in question was that of a 52-year-old Iraqi prisoner of war, whose corpse was found June 6 at a camp run by the 1st Marine Division near Nasiriyah. The man had been held at the camp in southern Iraq since his capture May 3.
Lisbon said Paulus and Hernandez also face lesser charges, including cruelty and maltreatment, and assault.
Roy and two others, Maj. William Vickers and Sgt. Gary Pittman, face charges ranging from dereliction of duty to cruelty.
The remaining three men, Sgt. Albert Rodriquez-Martinez, Lance Cpl. Andrew Rodney and Lance Cpl. Konstantin Mikholap, are charged with making false official statements and 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.
Lisbon also would not say when the unit was activated for duty nor when it returned to the United States. The unit is in New York, he said.
In a separate case, four military police from a Pennsylvania-based Army Reserve unit were charged in July with punching, kicking and breaking bones of prisoners at Camp Bucca, the largest U.S.-run POW camp in Iraq. Those soldiers and their families have denied the accusations.