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US military loosens conditions on Marines in brig

Written by: Staff
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WASHINGTON, June 17 (Reuters) The military has loosened the conditions under which it is confining seven Marines and a Navy corpsman as it investigates the fatal shooting of an Iraqi civilian in April, the US Marine Corps said.

The service members, held in pretrial confinement at the Camp Pendleton brig in California since May 24, had been in ''maximum'' custody, restrained with handcuffs attached to a leather belt and leg cuffs any time leaving their cells, officials said yesterday.

The base said in a statement that has been changed to ''medium-in'' custody with no such restraints while inside the brig facility. Any time outside the brig, however, they will be restrained with handcuffs attached to a leather belt. They now also will get visits on weekends and holidays and one hour of daily recreation without restraint, the base said.

In the April 26 incident in the town of Hamdania, military criminal investigators are examining whether the Marines and corpsman fatally shot a 52-year-old disabled Iraqi man in the face, then planted a rifle and a shovel next to his body to make it appear he was an insurgent placing a roadside bomb.

Defense lawyers have said they expect the military to file murder and kidnapping charges, and say investigators have threatened them with the death penalty.

The military initially misidentified the town where the shooting took place as Hamandiyah but has since corrected it.

It is a separate case from the Nov. 19 killing of 24 civilians in Haditha in which other Marines are suspected.

REUTERS DH RAI0710

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