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US general vows thorough probe in Iraq rape case

Written by: Staff

WASHINGTON, July 5 (Reuters) The top US general pledged to get to the truth of charges that a discharged US Army private raped and murdered a young Iraqi woman and shot three family members to death south of Baghdad in March.

''We are going to get to the bottom of these allegations.'' Marine General Peter Pace, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said in an interview on CBS's ''The Early Show yesterday.'' ''If the investigation leads us to enough information, we put it into the courts and let the court system take care of it,'' he said.

''Any such acts on the part of any U S service member, if proven to be true, are totally unacceptable,'' he added in another interview on NBC's ''Today'' program.

Four troops may have planned the alleged attack after noticing the woman near a traffic checkpoint they manned in Mahmudiya, just south of Baghdad, then tried to cover it up, according to federal documents made public on Monday.

Former Pfc. Steven Green, 21, appeared in court in Charlotte, North Carolina, on Monday on a charge from a federal prosecutor in Kentucky that he went with three others to a house near Mahmudiya to rape a woman.

Green, who faces the death penalty, shot dead a man, woman and girl before raping another woman and killing her, the U S attorney alleged in a statement. Court documents said he had since been honorably discharged from the army due to a ''personality disorder.'' Reports from Iraq and the military have given different ages for the girl and the rape-murder victim. The two adults and child were the rape victim's parents and sister, according to a U S defense official.

The troops under suspicion are from the 502nd Infantry Regiment, part of the 101st Airborne Division, based at Fort Campbell, Kentucky.

Pace, in the CBS interview, was asked how he accounted for the case in light of other investigations into the alleged killing of Iraqi civilians, including 24 people at Haditha.

Last month, 12 U S troops were charged with murder in two other cases, more than doubling the number of such charges in the war.

''Don't know,'' Pace replied. '' We'll get to the bottom of that.

That's why we do the investigations.'' Pace said more than a million Americans had served honorably in the Gulf region ''and the vast majority of the American servicemen and women should be proud of how they are serving this nation.'' REUTERS SK VV0918

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