Military officials have charged six Camp Pendleton-based Marines with assault in connection with an alleged attack in Hamdania, Iraq.
Three of those charged are already facing murder, kidnapping and conspiracy charges, leveled June in connection with the April 26 death of Hashim Ibrahim Awad, a 52 year-old Iraqi man, in Hamdania.
The newest round of charges stem from an undisclosed and unrelated April 10 incident, according to a press release issued late Thursday. Additional details are expected to be released later today.
On Thursday, Cpl. Trent D. Thomas and Lance Cpl. Jerry E. Shumate Jr. were both charged with assault on an Iraqi civilian, while Sgt. Lawrence G. Hutchins III was charged with assaulting three Iraqi Civilians. All three Marines are now facing charges in both cases and have been held in the brig at Camp Pendleton since returning from Iraq on May 24.
Lance Cpl. Saul H. Lopezromo, Pfc. Derek I. Lewis and Lance Cpl. Henry D. Lever were also charged Thursday in connection with the April 10 incident. Each soldier has been charged with assault on an Iraqi civilian.
All are members of 2nd Platoon, Kilo Company, 3rd Battalion, 5th Marine Regiment, 1st Marine Division.
Four other marines and one Navy medic from the same platoon have also been charged in Awad’s death. Military authorities have accused the eight soldiers of abducting Awad from his home, shooting him and then planting an AK-47 rifle and shovel near his body in an attempt to make him look like an insurgent and cover up the murder. All eight are being held in the brig at Camp Pendleton.
After reviewing the findings of a preliminary investigation into Awad’s death, Maj. Gen. Richard C. Zilmer, Commanding General, Multi-National Force West, ordered 12 soldiers to return to Camp Pendleton in May.
While the eight charged in Awad’s death have been held in the brig at Camp Pendeleton since their return, Lopezromo, Lewis and Lever were initially placed on pretrial restriction to the base. All three have since been released and continue to report for duty on the base, according to a Camp Pendleton spokesman.
One Marine, whose name has not been disclosed, was ordered to return to Camp Pendleton in May, restricted to the base and later released but hasn’t been charged with any crimes, the spokesman said.
All of the accused will soon face an Article 32 hearing, the military equivalent of a grand jury hearing. Unlike a traditional grand jury, the accused is permitted to attend and defense attorneys are allowed to cross examine witnesses and challenge evidence.
Article 32 hearings for the Marines charged with the alleged murder of Awad are expected to occur in late September, said Joseph Casas, an attorney for one of the accused Marines.
According to the press release, Marine leaders became aware of the alleged assaults in May during a criminal investigation into Awad’s death. The latest charges are based on the findings of a Naval Criminal Investigative Service investigation.
Meanwhile, Naval Criminal Investigative Service investigators have completed a report on an unrelated incident involving the alleged murder of 24 Iraqi civilians in Haditha, Iraq by several Camp Pendleton Marines. The report is being passed up the chain of command and superior officers are expected to soon decide whether charges should be filed in that incident. The names of the accused Marines have not been officially disclosed.