By LOLITA C. BALDOR
The Associated Press
Friday, June 16, 2006; 4:36 PM
WASHINGTON -- The Army general investigating whether military personnel tried to cover up any part of the alleged massacre of up to two dozen Iraqi civilians in Haditha late last year has completed a voluminous report on the incident.
Army Maj. Gen. Eldon A. Bargewell sent his report to Lt. Gen. Peter Chiarelli, the second-ranking commander in Iraq, U.S. military officials announced Friday. No information about his findings was provided.
Chiarelli now has a number of options and no time limit for taking action, according to Lt. Col. Michelle Martin-Hing, Multi-National Corps-Iraq spokeswoman, who described the report as "voluminous."
She said he can approve the findings; substitute or add his own findings; send the report back for more information; and make recommendations for action by higher-ranking military authorities.
The Haditha case centers on allegations that a small number of Marines from the 3rd Battalion, 1st Marine Regiment murdered 24 Iraqi civilians _ included unarmed women and children _ on Nov. 19 after a roadside bomb in the town killed one of their fellow Marines.
Bargewell has just one piece of the investigation _ whether the Marines followed proper procedures in reporting about the incident to commanders, or whether anyone engaged in a cover-up. His investigation also may consider whether any criminal charges should be brought in connection with deliberate attempts to lie about the incident.
A second probe is also under way by the Naval Criminal Investigative Service into what exactly happened that day, and whether criminal _ or even murder _ charges should be brought against those involved.
Officials have been expecting Bargewell's report. Members of Congress have said they want to hold hearings into the matter and said they would like to hear first from Bargewell.
Martin-Hing added that Chiarelli will make no public statements on the report that could interfere with the ongoing criminal investigation.
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