GI Faces Court-Martial in Iraqi Drowning

Two months after Staff Sgt. Tracy Perkins (search) was convicted in the death of an Iraqi who allegedly drowned after soldiers forced him into the Tigris River, his co-defendant is hoping for a different result.

Army 1st Lt. Jack Saville (search) is charged with involuntary manslaughter, aggravated assault, obstruction of justice, conspiracy and making a false statement. His court-martial was to begin Monday.

The 25-year-old West Point graduate faces a maximum penalty of 29 years in military prison if convicted. He is accused of ordering troops to push two curfew violators into the river near Samarra in early 2004, resulting in the drowning death of Zaidoun Hassoun (search), 19.

But defense lawyers contend Zaidoun is still alive, and in December a judge granted a defense request to have the body exhumed to determine identification and cause of death. It's unclear if that exhumation has happened.

In January, Perkins faced the same charges and was convicted of two counts of aggravated assault, obstruction of justice and assault consummated by battery. He was acquitted of manslaughter and making a false statement. The conspiracy charge was dismissed earlier in his military trial at Fort Hood.

Perkins was sentenced to six months in military prison and was reduced by one rank to staff sergeant, which cuts his pay and responsibilities.

During Perkins' trial, an Army investigator testified that she never saw Zaidoun's body, allegedly found in the river 12 days after the incident, and did not have it exhumed because of security concerns.

Also during Perkins' trial, several soldiers testified that both Iraqis got out of the river alive. A forensic expert testified that a corpse shown in a funeral videotape provided by Zaidoun's family showed no signs of being in water for nearly two weeks.

Perkins and Saville are part of the 3rd Brigade Combat Team out of Fort Carson, Colo., which is part of the 4th Infantry based at Fort Hood.