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Marines expected to face criminal charges in Afghanistan civilian shootings

[JURIST] The US Marine Corps [official website] has been told to expect charges to be filed against five to seven Marines who are being investigated for killing ten civilians [JURIST report] near Jalalabad, Afghanistan on March 4, according to a Marine official speaking on the condition of anonymity. A preliminary US military investigation found that the Marines were among of group of 30 soldiers who opened fire against civilians after a suicide bomber drove a vehicle carrying explosives into their convoy. No soldiers were hurt in the attack, but the Marines began firing at bystanders, including women and elderly men, along a several mile stretch of road as they left the scene. The investigation, ordered by US Army Maj. Gen. Frank Kearney [profile], found no evidence that the Marines were facing enemy fire and revealed ten deaths and 33 injuries as a result of the shootings.

The soldiers are members of a Marine Corps Special Forces unit under the command of the United States Special Operations Command (USSOCOM) [official website] and were sent to Afghanistan to carry out special reconnaissance, intelligence and commando missions. An Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission (AIHRC) [official website] released a report [PDF text] earlier this month claiming the soldiers violated international humanitarian law [JURIST report] by using indiscriminate and excessive force in its response to the suicide bombing. A formal investigation by the Naval Criminal Investigative Service (NCIS) [official website] is being conducted which will determine who will be charged in the civilian attacks. Friday's New York Times has more.

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Paper Chase is JURIST's real-time legal news service, powered by a team of 30 law student reporters and editors led by law professor Bernard Hibbitts at the University of Pittsburgh School of Law. As an educational service, Paper Chase is dedicated to presenting important legal news and materials rapidly, objectively and intelligibly in an accessible format.

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