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Court Hears Testimony About Alleged Rape, Killing of Iraqi by US Troops

A U.S. criminal investigator has testified at a military hearing into allegations that four American soldiers raped and killed a 14-year-old Iraqi girl.

The special agent Benjamin Bierce told a U.S. military court in Baghdad Monday that one of the accused, Specialist James Barker, confessed to him that he and two other soldiers raped and killed the teenager while another soldier killed her family. Her body was later set on fire.

U.S. military officials are trying to determine if there is enough evidence to begin a court martial against the soldiers accused in the March 12 attack south of Baghdad.

A civilian court in the United States is set to try former soldier Steven Green for his role in the alleged attack.

The four soldiers could face the death penalty if convicted in a court martial.

The case is the latest in a series of high-profile scandals that have tarnished the reputation of the 130,000 U.S. forces stationed in Iraq.

Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki has called for an independent inquiry into the incident.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP, AP and Reuters.