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04-13-04, 07:45 AM
Charges Dismissed Against Marine Reservist

By Associated Press
HOUSTON Charges against a Marine reservist accused in the death of an Iraqi prisoner last year were thrown out, a defense attorney said Monday.

Lance Cpl. Christian Hernandez and his commanding officer, Maj. Mark A. Paulus, had been accused of negligent homicide in the death of Nagem Sadoon Hatab, a Baath Party member who prosecutors said was punched, karate-kicked and dragged by the throat while in the officers' custody in Iraq.

Hatab, 52, had been left lying naked, covered in his own feces, for hours when he was found dead on June 6, 2003.

Col. William Gallo, the investigating officer who presided over an Article 32 hearing in February, recommended dismissal of charges against Hernandez. Article 32 hearings are the military equivalent of a civilian grand jury probe.

Maj. Gen. William Bowdon, the commanding general at Camp Pendleton, the Marine base north of San Diego, made the final decision to drop the charges.

A memorandum on Bowden's decision, dated Friday, was released Monday by Hernandez's attorney, Jack Zimmermann.

Zimmerman said Hernandez was back in New York City with his wife and children.

Administrative punishment, such as loss of pay or restriction to base, was recommended for Paulus.