A military judge at Fort Hood granted a request Tuesday to exhume the body of an Iraqi civilian who prosecutors say died after U.S. troops pushed him into Iraq’s Tigris River.
Attorneys for one of the soldiers charged in the death say the alleged victim is still alive and they want to exhume what’s supposed to be his body in order to prove it.
The ruling Tuesday came during a hearing on pre-trial motions in the court-martial of 1st Lt. Jack M. Saville, who is charged in the death of the civilian.
Saville is assigned to the division’s 3rd Brigade, which is based at Fort Carson, Colo.
Saville, and Sgt. 1st Class Tracy Perkins, are charged with involuntary manslaughter, assault, making false official statements and obstruction of justice in connection with the death.
The maximum possible punishment if both soldiers are convicted on all counts is 29 years confinement, dismissal from the service and forfeiture of all pay and allowances.
Saville’s court martial is scheduled for January at Fort Hood.
Perkins’ court-martial was postponed last week to allow for travel delays for Iraqi witnesses.
His court-martial is now scheduled to begin on Dec. 28.
Neither Perkins nor Saville entered pleas during a hearing on Oct. 19 at Fort Hood.
Maj. Gen. James Thurman, commander of the 4th Infantry Division, referred the charges against the two soldiers to trial on Sept. 17.
The charges stem from what family members and the Army say was the drowning of 19-year-old Zaidoun Hassoun on Jan. 3, 2003 in the Tigris River and an earlier incident in which a detainee was assaulted on Dec. 5, 2003.
The commander of the 3rd Brigade at Fort Carson forwarded the charges to Thurman after a pretrial investigation.
Saville waived his right to a pretrial or Article 32 hearing on Sept. 8.
An Article 32 hearing was held for Perkins in late July.