By Joshua Partlow
Washington Post Staff Writer
Monday, June 26, 2006
BAGHDAD, June 25 -- Two Pennsylvania National Guardsmen were charged in connection with the killing of an unarmed Iraqi man in the restive western province of Anbar, the U.S. military said Sunday.
Spec. Nathan B. Lynn of the National Guard 1st Battalion, 109th Infantry was charged with voluntary manslaughter for allegedly shooting Gani Ahmad Zaben in the chest on Feb. 15 while Zaben was in front of his home near Ramadi, according to charges released Sunday.
Lynn, 21, of South Williamsport, Pa., and another soldier, Sgt. Milton Ortiz, Jr., 36, of Islip, N.Y., were also charged with obstructing justice for allegedly conspiring with a third, unnamed person to plant an AK-47 next to Zaben's body to suggest he was an insurgent, the military said. At the time, Lynn had been providing security for an operation.
Both soldiers were taken to a Baghdad military base for a hearing to determine whether there is sufficient evidence for court-martial proceedings. The announcement marked the third time in a week that the U.S. military has charged troops in connection with killings in Iraq.
On Wednesday, Marine Corps officials announced that seven Marines and one Navy corpsman had been charged with murder and kidnapping in connection with the death in April of an Iraqi man in a village west of Baghdad. The troops were part of Kilo Company, 3rd Battalion, 5th Marine Regiment.
Four soldiers have been accused of killing three men in their custody last month near Samarra, about 65 miles north of Baghdad.
In addition, inquiries are ongoing into allegations that a Marine unit killed as many as two dozen Iraqi civilians last November in Haditha, 125 miles northwest of the capital.
U.S. military leaders have vowed to remind troops of the rules and responsibilities of battle.
The U.S. military also said that Ortiz had been charged with an assault on March 8. In that incident, he allegedly put an unloaded gun to the head of an Iraqi male civilian and said, " 'I'm going to put you in Abu Ghraib for the rest of your life,' or words to that affect," according to charging documents.
U.S. and Iraqi forces have recently stepped up operations in Ramadi in an attempt to pacify what has become a stronghold for the Sunni Muslim insurgency.