Six U.S. Marines Charged with Assault for Injuring Iraqi Civilians

Six Marines accused of injuring civilians in the Iraqi village of Hamdania in April were charged with assault.

Half of the men were already being held on murder charges in an unrelated case. Military officials said Thursday that the assaults were uncovered during an investigation into that slaying.

A seventh Marine, an officer, is expected to be charged next week in the assault case, according to Lt. Col. Colby Vokey, the Marine Corps' defense coordinator for the western United States.

The nature of the assaults was not described.

Charged Thursday were Lance Cpl. Saul H. Lopezromo, Pfc. Derek I. Lewis, Lance Cpl. Henry D. Lever, Sgt. Lawrence G. Hutchins III, Cpl. Trent D. Thomas and Lance Cpl. Jerry E. Shumate Jr., officials said.

CountryWatch: Iraq

Hutchins, Thomas and Shumate were among eight servicemen previously charged in the April 26 slaying of 52-year-old Hashim Ibrahim Awad, an Iraqi civilian, officials said.

All six Marines in the assault case were assigned to the 3rd Battalion, 5th Marine Regiment, 1st Marine Division while in Iraq. They are currently assigned to the Headquarters Battalion, 1st Marine Division at Camp Pendleton.

Attorney Joseph Casas, who represents Pfc. John Jodka III, one of the men charged in the Awad slaying, said that probe uncovered separate incidents in which Marines are accused of misconduct.

Casas had not seen the latest charge sheets in the assault case, but is familiar with an almost 600-page investigation report compiled by the Naval Criminal Investigative Service.

He said it details incidents where Marines are accused of extracting information from suspected insurgents, or "high-value individuals."

"The charges are going to be about the nature and method with which these Marines obtained information," Casas said. "It will probably be that they used physical force."

The seven Marines and one Navy corpsman charged in Awad's slaying are being held in the Camp Pendleton brig. Investigators say that without provocation they went into Hamdania, took Awad from his home, tied him up, put him in a hole and shot him.

After the killing, according to investigators, the troops placed an AK-47 assault rifle in Awad's hands and put a shovel in the hole to make it appear he was an insurgent planting explosives.

In coming weeks, a military hearing will be held to determine whether the eight should face trial.