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US Military Court Holds Hearing Into 2005 Haditha Killings


A U.S. Marine has testified he witnessed another Marine kill five unarmed Iraqi men in the town of Haditha in 2005.

Sergeant Sanick Dela Cruz said Friday at a military hearing in California he saw Sergeant Frank Wuterich shoot the Iraqis after a roadside bomb killed a fellow marine.

The military hearing will determine if Wuterich will be court-martialed. He was one of four enlisted Marines charged with murder in the November 19, 2005 incident that left a total of 24 Iraqi citizens dead. Dela Cruz had also been charged in the case, but prosecutors dropped the charges in exchange for his testimony.

Meanwhile, in Iraq, Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki has called on the country's armed groups to follow the lead of the Shi'ite Mahdi Army militia and cease their operations. Mr. Maliki issued a statement saying Shi'ite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr's decision to halt militia activities provides a good opportunity for other militias to suspend their activities.

Separately, the U.S. military announced the deaths of two servicemen in al-Anbar province earlier in the week. The military also said coalition forces on Friday killed five suspected members of al-Qaida in Iraq and detained 13 others in raids conducted in the Tigris River Valley.

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