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Marine Charged With Murdering Captured Insurgent In Iraq

LOS ANGELES (AP) _ A Marine has been charged with murdering a captured insurgent three years ago in Fallujah, Iraq, the military announced Monday.

Sgt. Jermaine A. Nelson, based at Camp Pendleton, is the second man charged in a case centered on allegations that a Marine squad shot a group of unarmed captives during heavy fighting in November 2004.

Nelson was charged Thursday with one count of murder for killing ``an unknown foreign national,'' according to a statement from the Marine Corps.

Squad leader Jose Nazario, 27, was charged last week with one count of voluntary manslaughter in the killing of two captives. Because he has completed his military service, the former sergeant faces charges in federal court. Nazario told reporters last week that he is innocent.

It wasn't immediately clear who Nelson's lawyer was.

Both Nazario and Nelson, who was a lance corporal at the time, belonged to a squad from Kilo Company of the 3rd Battalion, 1st Marine Regiment, at the time of the killing.

A year later, a different squad from the same company was involved in the killings of 24 civilians in Haditha, Iraq. Nelson and Nazario are not connected to that case.

According to a criminal complaint against Nazario, the killings in which he is implicated occurred Nov. 9, 2004. The complaint says several Marines, whose names are redacted, allege Nazario shot two men who had been detained while his squad searched a house for insurgents.

The complaint alleges that four men were killed.

It is unclear from court papers how Nelson is alleged to have killed a prisoner.

The complaint states the squad had been taking fire from the house. After the troops entered the building and captured the insurgents, Nazario placed a call on his radio.

``Nazario said that he was asked, 'Are they dead yet?''' the complaint states. When Nazario responded that the captives were still alive, he was told by the Marine on the radio to ``make it happen,'' the complaint says.

Nazario's attorney Doug Applegate said investigators were looking into the actions of at least one other squad member, as well as the Marine who allegedly spoke with Nazario on the radio.

Marine spokesman Lt. Col. Chris Hughes declined to discuss how many more Marines could still be charged in the case. He said, ``No one else has been charged yet.''

The allegations surfaced when a former corporal from the squad, Ryan Weemer, applied for a job with the Secret Service. Investigators claim Weemer described the killings during a polygraph test that included a question about whether he had participated in a wrongful death, said his attorney, Paul Hackett.

Hackett said without any physical, ballistic or forensic evidence, the case would be difficult to prove and prosecutors would likely look to offer an immunity deal to a Marine in return for having him testify against others.

``I don't know how they prove one of these cases without the testimony of one of those allegedly involved,'' Hackett said. He said prosecutors had not offered his client immunity.

``I am not inviting that conversation with the government,'' he said. ``I am inviting the government to leave my client alone.''
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