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US Wants To Exhume Allegedly Raped, Burned Girl

From the DNC’s Associated Press:

Neighbor and eyewitness Hussein Mohammed, 33, points to the charred ground where clothing of the young Iraqi girl who was allegedly raped then killed along with family members was burned outside of their home, Thursday, July 6, 2006, in Mahmoudiya, south of Baghdad, Iraq.

U.S. Seeks to Exhume Iraqi Girl’s Remains

Jul 8, 10:22 PM EDT


TIKRIT, Iraq (AP) — U.S. investigators have asked Iraqi authorities to help them navigate cultural sensitivities to exhume the body of a teenager allegedly raped and murdered with her family by American soldiers, a military official said Saturday.

U.S. Maj. Mark Wright said U.S. authorities are aware that Islamic tradition has strict rules governing exhumation and could require religious leaders to become involved in the investigation.

"You want to be aware of these cultural issues while at the same time making sure that the accused receives proper justice," Wright, a spokesman for the U.S.-led coalition in Iraq, told The Associated Press.

Muslim tradition generally frowns on exhumations, considering them desecration of the remains.

However, Ahmed Taha, the uncle of the dead teen, told AP Thursday that relatives were eager to cooperate with investigators and would allow them to exhume the body of the alleged rape victim, Abeer Qassim Hamza. Her parents and sister were also slain.

Ex-soldier Steven D. Green was arrested last week in North Carolina and has pleaded not guilty to one count of rape and four counts of murder.

Four soldiers from the 1st Battalion, 502nd Infantry Regiment have been taken to a U.S. military camp in Baghdad for questioning, Wright said. He would not say if those soldiers had been arrested, but another U.S. official said Saturday that several more soldiers would soon be charged. The official spoke on condition of anonymity because the investigation is ongoing.

Based on interviews and records, the U.S. military now believes the woman who Green is accused of raping and killing was between the ages of 14 and 20, Army spokesman Paul Boyce said Friday. While the military initially said she was 20, Boyce said he has seen documents that indicate she could have been about 14.

Wright said officials are also considering whether certain parts of a standard Western autopsy would be taboo in Iraq and if a religious leader or family members should be present to ensure cultural barriers are not crossed.

He said U.S. military commanders in Iraq are working with the family’s relatives to expedite the investigation, but that it was not immediately clear whether Iraqis or Americans would have custody of the woman’s remains.

U.S. officials are concerned that the alleged rape-slaying, which occurred March 12 near Mahmoudiya, south of Baghdad, will strain relations with the new U.S.-backed government and increase calls for changes in the agreement that exempts American soldiers from prosecution in Iraqi courts.

Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki has demanded an independent investigation into the case, which followed a series of allegations that U.S. troops killed and mistreated Iraqi civilians.

According to an FBI affidavit, Green and at least two others targeted the teenager and her family for a week before the attack, which wasn’t revealed until witnesses came forward in late June.

The soldiers drank alcohol, abandoned their checkpoint, changed clothes to avoid detection and headed to the victims’ house, about 200 yards from a U.S. military checkpoint in the so-called "Triangle of Death", a Sunni Arab area south of Baghdad known for its violence, the affidavit said.

In the week since the allegations came to light, the military has remained tightlipped even amid growing cries by Iraqi leaders for a fair investigation.

President Bush, speaking on CNN’s "Larry King Live" last Thursday, said the Iraqis should understand that the allegations will be handled "in a very transparent upfront way."

"People will be held to account if these charges are true," Bush said.

In the chow halls and barracks, many soldiers remain convinced that the alleged rape and killings in Mahmoudiya were aberrations and that most American service members respect the rules of war.

"These crimes are against all the Army values, so if you don’t have any of those values, you shouldn’t even call yourself a soldier," said Staff Sgt. Ahmand Brown, 28, of Flint, Mich.

In the aftermath of claims that Marines killed civilians in the western town of Haditha in November, the U.S. military in Iraq ordered all personnel to undergo values training.

The Army has also paid greater attention to its rules of engagements, which determine when a soldier can use deadly force. But a bad soldier is a bad soldier, no matter the training, Brown said.

Green, who served 11 months with the 101st Airborne Division, based at Fort Campbell, Ky., received an honorable discharge and left the army in mid-May. He was discharged because of an "anti-social personality disorder," according to military officials and court documents.

But even before the rape-murder allegation surfaced, the military was investigating an incident in which three soldiers from the same battalion were killed by insurgents near Youssifiyah. Two of them apparently were abducted and slain, with their bodies mutilated.

U.S. officials insist they have no evidence that the incidents are related.

As we have noted before, this is what the Islamic scholars at Al-Islam.org have to say about exhuming bodies:

Rules About Burial of the Dead Body

650.  Digging up the grave is allowed in the following cases :

* When the dead body has been buried in an usurped land and the owner of the land is not willing to let it remain there.
* When the Kafan of the dead body or any other thing buried with it had been usurped and the owner of the thing in question is not willing to let it remain in the grave. Similarly, if anything belonging to the heirs has been buried along with the deceased and the heirs are not willing to let it remain in the grave. However, if the dead person had made a will that a certain supplication or the holy Qur’an or a ring be buried along with his dead body, and if that will is valid, then the grave cannot be opened up to bring those articles out. There are certain situations when the exhuming is not permitted even if the land, the Kafan or the articles buried with the corpse are Ghasbi. But there is no room for details here.
* When opening the grave does not amount to disrespect of the dead person, and it transpires that he was buried without Ghusl or Kafan, or the Ghusl was void, or he was not given Kafan according to religious rules, or was not laid in the grave facing the Qibla.
* When it is necessary to inspect the body of the dead person to establish a right which is more important than exhumation.
* When the dead body of a Muslim has been buried at a place which is against sanctity, like, when it has been buried in the graveyard of non-Muslim or at a place of garbage.
* When the grave is opened up for a legal purpose which is more important than exhumation. For example, when it is proposed to take out a living child from the womb of a buried woman.
* When it is feared that a wild beast would tear up the corpse or it will be carried away by flood or exhumed by the enemy.
* When the deceased has willed that his body be transferred to sacred places before burial, and if it was intentionally or forgetfully buried elsewhere, then the body can be exhumed, provided that doing so does not result in any disrespect to the deceased.

So there seems to be no real religious objections about it — or in the case of Haditha either — insofar as other rights are involved.

Such as the right to a fair trial.

This article was posted by Steve on Sunday, July 9th, 2006. Comments are currently closed.

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