Tuesday, May 30, 2006

New Iraqi Ambassador Claims US Marines "intentionally' killed cousin"

The new Iraqi ambassador to the United States has accused US Marines of "intentionally" killing a cousin in the Iraqi town of Haditha last year. Speaking only hours after presenting his credentials to President George W Bush at the White House, Ambassador Samir al-Sumaidaie said his relative was shot dead five months before the killing of 24 civilians in the town in November that is now the subject of a controversial inquiry.

The ambassador told how Mohammed al-Sumaidaie, a 21-year-old engineering student, was killed after opening the door of the family house to US Marines on June 25. "I believe he was killed intentionally. I believe he was killed unnecessarily," Mr Sumaidaie said on CNN television. "The Marines were doing house-to-house searches, and they went into the house of my cousin. He opened the door for them. His mother, his siblings were there. He let them into the bedroom of his father, and there he was shot."

At the time, Mr Sumaidaie was the ambassador to the United Nations and the US military agreed to investigate the death after he released a statement. Mr Sumaidaie said the investigation "concluded that there was no unlawful killing. I would like further investigation," he told CNN. The ambassador added that General George Casey, commander of US forces in Iraq, had rejected a first investigation into the death. Mr Sumaidaie said he was still waiting to see a copy of the report.

The ambassador said his family had been told his cousin was shot dead "in self-defence" but he could not believe this. "I know the boy. He was in second year engineering courses at the university. Nothing to do with violence. All his life has been studies and intellectual work." The ambassador added that he was also suspicious about the deaths of three other youths in Haditha shortly after that of his cousin. "They were in a car, they were unarmed, I believe, and they were shot."


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