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Germany

US Soldier Faces Murder Charges in Germany Over Iraqi Killings

A US soldier faced a military court in Germany on Tuesday, charged with alleged involvement in the brutal murder of four Iraqi prisoners who were bound, shot in the head and dumped in a Baghdad canal in 2007.

US Marines of the 1st Division line up for a prayer at their base outside Fallujah, Iraq

Seven US soldiers have been charged with involvement in the 2007 murders

Sgt. Michael Leahy Jr., 26, of Lockport, Illinois, is charged with murder, conspiracy to commit premeditated murder and obstruction of justice. He faces life imprisonment if found guilty at the US military's Rose Barracks Courthouse in Vilseck, north eastern Bavaria.

Leahy Jr. is one of seven soldiers alleged to have been involved in the murders, which took place sometime between March 10 and April 16, 2007, news agency AP reported Tuesday.

All seven were part of the same battalion, which is now part of the Germany-based 172nd Infantry Brigade, AP said. Two of the soldiers have already pleaded guilty to premeditated murder and agreed to testify against Leahy Jr.

According to various witness accounts of the events leading up to the killings, the four Iraqis had been involved in a shootout with the 1st Battalion, to which the seven accused were attached.

The Iraqis were taken back to the US operating base for processing but were soon after released due to a lack of evidence that they had been involved in the skirmish. Witnesses said the soldiers took the Iraqis to a remote area later that night and shot them as a reprisal for the earlier attack on their unit, AP reported.

An eighth soldier who was charged with involvement in the killings, Staff Sgt. Jess Cunningham, had charges of conspiracy to commit premeditated murder dropped by the US Army last week.

Leahy is also facing murder charges for a separate event in January 2007.

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