'No Evidence' Ties Dead Soldiers to Mahmudiyah Crimes

Citing media reports suggesting a possible
connection between three U.S. soldiers killed in June and the alleged
rape of an Iraqi girl and murder of the girl and her family in March,
military officials in Iraq today issued a statement saying "no evidence"
connects the dead soldiers to the incident.

"Past articles could be read to imply that the three deceased soldiers
were somehow involved in the alleged crimes," Multinational Corps Iraq
officials said in the statement.

Spc. David Babineau, Pfc. Thomas Tucker and Pfc. Kristian Menchaca -
all assigned to Company B, 1st Battalion, 502nd Infantry Regiment, 101st
Airborne Division - were manning a checkpoint that came under attack
June 16. Babineau died at the scene, and Tucker and Menchaca went
missing. Their bodies were found three days later.

Six current and former soldiers from the same unit are facing criminal
charges in connection with the alleged March 12 rape and murder
incident in the southern Iraq town of Mahmudiyah.

"The criminal investigation into the crimes committed against the Iraqi
family in Mahmudiyah is still ongoing, and comment on the investigation
would be inappropriate," the MNC-I statement said. "Thus far, however,
no evidence has been discovered implicating Babineau, Tucker or
Menchaca in any criminal involvement with the Mahmudiyah incident."

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