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Military hearing opens for contractor charged in Iraq Print

BAGHDAD (AP) — A military hearing began Tuesday for a civilian contractor charged with aggravated assault while working as an Army translator in Iraq — the first such military prosecution since the Vietnam War.

Alaa "Alex" Mohammad Ali, who holds dual Iraqi-Canadian citizenship, is accused of stabbing another contractor four times during a fight Feb. 23 on a base near Hit, 85 miles west of Baghdad. The victim received chest wounds.
In 2006, Congress gave the military authority to prosecute crimes committed by civilians working for the armed forces.

The investigating officer, Lt. Col. Charles E. Febus, heard testimony from a Criminal Investigation Division agent and military and civilian witnesses via video teleconference in a courtroom at Camp Victory on the outskirts of Baghdad, according to a military statement.

The hearing — similar to a civilian grand jury — will forward recommendations to Lt. Gen. Lloyd J. Austin III, commanding officer of the Multinational Corps, who will decide whether to order a trial, the military said.

During the war in Vietnam, several civilians working for the U.S. armed forces were charged with violations of military law. Although there were several convictions, they were eventually struck down by the U.S. Supreme Court.
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