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Civilian contractor court martial pre-trial begins

Release No: UNRELEASED April 16, 2008 PRINT | E-MAIL

BAGHDAD (April 15, 2008) – The pre-trial hearing for Alaa “Alex” Mohammad Ali began April 15 at the Liberty Court Room, Camp Liberty, Iraq.

This is the first time a civilian has been charged under a 2006 amendment to the Uniform Code of Military Justice – Section 552 of the National Defense Authorization Act of Fiscal Year 2007 (October 17, 2006).

This amendment states civilian contractors working for the U.S. Government are punishable for any crime under UCMJ, said Maj. Kurt Takushi, Chief, Administrative Law, Multi-National Corps – Iraq.

The charge against Ali is aggravated assault stemming from the Feb. 23 stabbing of another contractor at a combat outpost near Hit, Iraq.

During day one of the pre-trial hearing, Lt. Col. Charles E. Febus, investigating officer, heard testimony from a Criminal Investigation Division agent and witnesses of the alleged assault. Febus determined the military and civilian witnesses were “not reasonably available” to testify in person due to their remote location, so the witnesses testified via video teleconference.

The purpose of the pre-trial hearing is to investigate to determine whether or not there is probable cause and make a recommendation to the convening authority regarding the charges, Takushi said. The convening authority for this case is Lt. Gen. Lloyd J. Austin III, commanding general, MNC-I.

Ali has been in confinement at Camp Victory since Feb. 29, 2008, when he was accused of stabbing a fellow translator four times in the chest. He is presumed to be innocent unless and until he is proved guilty.

Ali is being afforded all the same rights, protections and privileges servicemembers receive in military court, including the right to counsel, right to speedy trial, protection against self-incrimination and presumption of innocence.

Ali is being represented by Maj. Javier E. Rivera and Capt. Clay Compton. The prosecution is Maj. Terri J. Erisman and Capt. Cal Cunningham.

The pre-trial hearing will resume tomorrow at 9 a.m. at the Liberty Court Room. -30-

FOR MORE INFORMATION or for high-res photos, CONTACT THE MULTI-NATIONAL CORPS – IRAQ PUBLIC AFFAIRS OFFICE BY E-MAIL AT:  MNCIPAOVictoryMainJO@iraq.centcom.mil