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Wednesday, December 08, 2004 - Page updated at 12:00 A.M.

Deserter's hearing told of atrocities


The Washington Post

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TORONTO — A former U.S. Marine staff sergeant testified at a hearing yesterday that his unit killed at least 30 unarmed civilians in Iraq during the war in 2003 and that Marines routinely shot wounded Iraqis and killed them.

Jimmy J. Massey, a 12-year veteran, said he left Iraq in May 2003 after a diagnosis of post-traumatic stress.

He said he and his men shot and killed four Iraqis staging a demonstration and a man with his hands up trying to surrender, as well as women and children at roadblocks. Massey said he had complained to his superiors about the "killing of innocent civilians," but that nothing was done.

Massey, 33, of Waynesville, N.C., was the chief witness at a refugee board hearing in the bid by a U.S. Army deserter, Pfc. Jeremy Hinzman, to win asylum in Canada after he fled from Fort Bragg, N.C., rather than go to Iraq.

Hinzman, 25, the first of at least three U.S. military deserters to apply for asylum here, argues that he refused to go to avoid committing war crimes.

Marine Corps spokesman Maj. Douglas Powell at the Pentagon said Massey's charges had been investigated and were unproved.

Massey is a former Marine recruiter who served in Iraq as the staff sergeant for a platoon that ranged from 25 to 50 men.

He said his men, fearing suicide bombers, poured massive firepower into cars that did not stop as they approached the roadblocks. In each instance, he said, none of the cars was found to have contained explosives or arms.

Copyright © 2004 The Seattle Times Company

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