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US Navy weighing war crimes charges for Iraqi civilian deaths in 2005 firefight

[JURIST] The US Navy [official website] plans to investigate possible war crimes committed by US troops in a November 2005 Iraq firefight that killed 15 civilians, according to a military official speaking on condition of anonymity Thursday. The incident involved approximately twelve US Marines [official website] firing at insurgents after a roadside bomb detonated near a joint US-Iraqi squad patrolling the city of Haditha. The soldiers are being investigated to determine whether they positively identified the enemy and whether there was hostile intent before firing, as they are instructed to do by the international law of armed conflict [ICRC materials].

A preliminary investigation was conducted by military officials in Iraq and their data has been passed on to the Naval Criminal Investigative Service [official website]. Violators of the international armed conflict law can be court-martialed for war crimes under the Uniform Code of Military Justice [text]. AP has more.

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