Assault Charge Likely For Marine in Iraq Case

Thursday, August 10, 2006

A Marine Corps platoon leader is expected to be charged with assault this week for his alleged role in the slaying of an Iraqi citizen in the village of Hamdaniyah earlier this year, his defense attorney said. That would make him the ninth U.S. serviceman charged in relation to the case.

Officials at Camp Pendleton in California declined to comment on potential charges against Lt. Nathan Phan. But his attorney, David P. Sheldon, said he has been informed that Phan is likely to face assault charges in connection with an April 26 incident involving a squad of Marines with Kilo Company, 3rd Battalion, 5th Marine Regiment. Military officials have alleged that the troops grabbed an Iraqi man from his home, bound his arms and legs and shot him in the face.

Sheldon said Phan "had no involvement whatsoever with any wrongdoing," adding that his client was not present when other Marines allegedly shot the Iraqi several times. Seven Marines and a Navy corpsman have already been charged with murder in the case, and three other Marines are under investigation. Defense attorneys have said the Marines were on a mission to ambush insurgents who had been planting bombs in a Hamdaniyah road when they encountered the Iraqi man.

Defense attorneys said they believe preliminary hearings could begin next month. Sheldon said the allegations against Phan are "baseless."

-- Josh White and Sonya Geis

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