Two U.S. soldiers face murder charge
July 19, 2007

BAGHDAD, Iraq (CNN) -- Two U.S. soldiers have been charged with premeditated murder in the death of an Iraqi near the northern city of Kirkuk last month, the U.S. military said Thursday.

Marine Cpl. Trent D. Thomas was convicted of kidnapping and conspiracy to commit offenses, including murder.

The charges were brought against Sgt. Trey A. Corrales of Texas and Spc. Christopher P. Shore of Georgia, following "reports of the alleged wrongdoing made by fellow soldiers to military authorities," a military statement said.

The U.S. Army Criminal Investigative Division is conducting an ongoing investigation.

The announcement came hours after a Marine corporal was convicted of kidnapping and conspiracy to commit offenses, including murder, in connection with the death of an Iraqi man in Hamdaniya last year.

Cpl. Trent D. Thomas had pleaded guilty to murder in the killing, then withdrew his plea earlier this year.

Thomas was found not guilty on charges of murder, larceny, housebreaking and making a false official statement, according to a statement released by the U.S. Marine Corps. Sentencing proceedings are set to begin Thursday, the Marines said.

Thomas, 25, was among a group of seven Marines and a Navy corpsman charged in relation to the April 2006 killing of Hashim Ibrahim Awad, 52.

Five U.S. soldiers killed since Wednesday

Small-arms fire killed a U.S. soldier on Thursday, the fifth U.S. military death in Iraq in the past two days, the U.S. military said.

The Task Force Marne soldier was killed near Rushdi Mullah, a farming village southeast of Mahmoudiya -- just south of Baghdad, according to the military.

Task Force Marne has been operating in and near southern Baghdad.

The military also reported the deaths of four U.S. soldiers Wednesday when a bomb exploded near their patrol in eastern Baghdad.

The number of U.S. service members killed in the Iraq war stands at 3,628, including seven military contract employees. Forty-eight service members have died in July alone.

Meanwhile, Iraqi police found 15 bodies throughout Baghdad on Wednesday, an Iraqi Interior Ministry official said.

Such finds turn up daily in the capital, and police suspect these deaths are the result of Sunni-Shiite sectarian vendettas. The total of unidentified bodies found in the capital during July stands at 377.

On Wednesday, the U.S. military announced the arrest of a senior leader of al Qaeda in Iraq. The military said insurgent has cast himself as a "conduit" between the top leaders of al Qaeda and al Qaeda in Iraq.

Khalid al-Mashadani, an Iraqi also known as Abu Shahed, was seized on July 4 in the northern Iraqi city of Mosul and is in the custody of the U.S.-led coalition, the military said.

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