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Ex-Marine to stand trial in federal court for Fallujah deaths

[JURIST] A former US Marine sergeant, charged [JURIST report] with two counts of voluntary manslaughter for allegedly killing two Iraqi insurgents during the Multinational National Force-Iraq's November 2004 offensive in Fallujah [GlobalSecurity backgrounder], can stand trial in federal court, according to a ruling from US District Court Judge Stephen Larson. Jose Nazario's lawyers had argued that a civilian court does not have jurisdiction to hear a case concerning the combat activities of a member of the armed forces, but the judge denied the motion to dismiss in court documents made available on Wednesday. Nazario has pleaded not guilty to the charges.

In July 2007, the Naval Criminal Investigation Service (NCIS) [official website] announced investigations of at least 10 Marines [JURIST report] in connection with the Fallujah offensive after former Marine Corporal Ryan Weemer admitted during a polygraphed job interview with the US Secret Service that he had witnessed indiscriminate killings in Fallujah. Military journalist Nathaniel Helms later corroborated that account, reporting that he witnessed Marines execute subdued Iraqi prisoners, whose bodies were later buried under rubble from an air strike. Three Marines have been accused in connection with the shootings. Weemer was charged with murder and dereliction of duty in March and Marine Sgt. Jermaine A. Nelson was charged with murder in December [JURIST reports]; Nazario was charged in August of last year. The Fresno Bee 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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