Marine says beatings urged in Iraq

Submitted by WantToKnow.info on Sun, 22/07/2007 - 02:47

A Marine corporal, testifying Saturday at the murder trial of a buddy, said that Marines in his unit began routinely beating Iraqis after being ordered by officers to "crank up the violence level." Cpl. Saul H. Lopezromo said Marines in his platoon, including the defendant, Cpl. Trent D. Thomas, were angry when officers criticized them as not being as tough as other Marine platoons. "We're all hard-chargers, we're not there to mess around, so we took it as an insult," Lopezromo said. Within weeks of allegedly being scolded, seven Marines and a Navy corpsman went out late one night to find and kill a suspected insurgent in the village of Hamandiya near the Abu Ghraib prison. Unable to find their target, the Marines and corpsman dragged another man from his house, fatally shot him, and then planted an AK-47 assault rifle near the body to make it look like he had been killed in a shootout, according to court testimony. "We were told to crank up the violence level," said Lopezromo, who testified for the defense. He indicated that during daily patrols the Marines became much rougher with Iraqis. Asked by a juror to explain, he said, "We beat people, sir." Lopezromo said he believed that officers knew of the beatings, and ... said he saw nothing wrong in what Thomas and the others did. "I don't see it as an execution, sir," he told the judge. "I see it as killing the enemy." He added that Marines, in effect, consider all Iraqi men as part of the insurgency. Prosecution witnesses testified that Thomas shot the 52-year-old Iraq at point-blank range after he had already been shot by other Marines and was lying on the ground. Lopezromo said a procedure called "dead-checking" was routine. Marines are taught "dead-checking" in boot camp ... he said.

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