4th soldier charged in detainee deaths
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BAGHDAD, Iraq (CNN) -- A fourth soldier from the 101st Airborne Division was charged Wednesday in connection with the shooting deaths of three detainees during an operation in Salaheddin province in May, the military said.
Spc. Juston R. Graber, 20, was charged with premeditated murder, attempted premeditated murder, conspiracy to commit murder and making a false official statement, according to a written statement.
The military announced Monday that an Army sergeant and two other soldiers had been charged in the case.
Pentagon sources have told CNN the soldiers are alleged to have shot the detainees and then inaccurately reported that they did so as the prisoners fled.
Staff Sgt. Raymond L. Girouard, Pfc. Corey Claggett and Spc. William B. Hunsacker are charged with premeditated murder, attempted murder and conspiracy in connection with the prisoners' deaths.
The killings took place during an operation near Tharthar Canal, which connects the Tigris and Euphrates rivers north of Baghdad. The military said the incident took place near Samarra "at or near" the Al-Muthanna chemical plant, which Iraq once used to produce nerve gas.
Girouard, Claggett and Hunsacker are also accused of obstructing justice and threatening a fellow soldier who witnessed the shootings, telling him they would kill him if he talked.
CNN has not yet reached attorneys for any of the four soldiers.
If convicted, the soldiers could face sentences ranging from five years in prison for threatening a witness to a death sentence for murder. Girouard, Claggett and Hunsacker are in custody, awaiting a hearing that will determine whether investigators have enough evidence for a court-martial.
Graber is confined to Contingency Operating Base Speicher in Iraq, performing administrative duties until a hearing.
The U.S. command in Baghdad said their commander ordered an investigation into the deaths on May 9, the day they occurred. The Army's Criminal Investigation Command began its own investigation May 17, the military reported.
The incident is not related to two separate investigations of alleged wrongdoing by U.S. Marines.
Seven U.S. Marines and a Navy medical corpsman were charged Wednesday with murder in the April killing of an Iraqi civilian near the town of Hamdaniya, Col. Stewart Navarre said at Camp Pendleton, California. (Full story)
The U.S. military also is investigating whether up to eight Marines from Kilo Company of the 3rd Battalion, 1st Marine Regiment, killed 24 Iraqi civilians in Haditha and engaged in a cover-up after one of their own was killed in a roadside bombing.
CNN's Jamie McIntyre contributed to this report.
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