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Maliki Wants Rape Probe, Slams US immunity
BAGHDAD — Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki called on Wednesday, July5 , for an independent inquiry into the rape and murder of a teenager and the killing of her family by US soldiers, pressing for a review of foreign troops' immunity from Iraqi law.
"Yes we will demand an independent Iraqi inquiry, or a joint investigation with Multinational Forces," Maliki told reporters during a visit to Kuwait, in his first public comments since the case came to light five days ago, reported Reuters.
"We do not accept the violation of Iraqi people's honor as happened in this case."
US prosecutors have charged Steven Green,21 , a former private with the US Army's storied101 st Airborne Division, with raping and murdering an Iraqi girl, after gunning down three members of her family, including a five-year-old sister.
According to court documents, Green and three fellow soldiers conspired to rape the girl, said to be15 -year-old, and changed into dark clothes before going to the house. Several of them drank alcohol before leaving.
When they returned after the incident, they had blood on their clothes, which they immediately burned.
A soldier not identified by an affidavit testified that he saw Green rape a girl then shoot her in the head "two-to-three times."
Justice Minister Hashem al-Shibly on Tuesday demanded a full investigation by his ministry into this "horrific, barbaric and inhuman" crime.
He urged the UN to empower Iraq "to pursue such cases as per its law for crimes committed on its territory."
"We believe that the immunity granted to international forces has emboldened them to commit such crimes and ... there must be a review of this immunity," Maliki said.
Maliki had before lashed out at the "regular occurrence" of violence by American troops against Iraqi civilians.
Under a3 -year-old mandate from the UN Security Council, the140 , 000or so US-led foreign troops are immune from Iraqi law.
The grisly crime comes at time when Maliki and Washington face delicate negotiations over a treaty to regulate the presence of the US-led force once the UN mandate expires in December.
The Iraqi premier, in his third month in office, has urged US commanders to hold their soldiers to account under military law -- something many Iraqis feel has not happened.
The US military said it "will leave no stone unturned" in getting to the bottom of the case.
"There is not one service member who is immune," Major General William Caldwell, spokesman for the US military said on Wednesday.
If convicted, Green could face execution for the murders or up to life in prison for the rape. He could also be sentenced to pay a fine of250 , 000dollars.
Lawmakers had demanded Maliki brief parliament on the case.
Sunni leader Adnan al-Dulaimi asked Maliki to "take a courageous stand towards the repeated crimes by the occupiers' soldiers in Iraq."
The rape element in a conservative Muslim society could make the case especially damaging for the US military, according to Reuters.
The US military has drawn international criticism over the sexual abuse of detainees at Abu Ghraib jail.
Washington has recently decided to give ethic training to all its130 , 000troops in the Arab country.
The rape and murder case is the fifth in a high-profile series of US inquiries into killings of Iraqi civilians in recent months.
The US army is investigating charges that US Marines killed 24 civilians, including 10 women and children, in the Euphrates valley town of Haditha last year after a roadside bomb killed a comrade.
Seven marines and a navy corpsman were charged on Wednesday, June22 , with premeditated murder of a disabled Iraqi civilian, before planning a rifle on his body to frame him as a militant.
In a similar case, a fourth US soldier was charged with premeditated murder in the shooting death of three Iraqi detainees near the Muthana Chemical Complex in Salaheddin province on May9 .