A former Marine Corps sergeant who lives in Murrieta is expected to appear in a federal courtroom in Riverside Thursday in connection with the slaying of eight unarmed Iraqi prisoners more than two years ago.
The U.S. attorney in Los Angeles has filed charges against Jose Nazario for his alleged role in the killing of the eight prisoners during a battle in Fallouja in November 2004, military and civilian sources told the Los Angeles Times.
Nazario, who worked as a Riverside police officer until his termination last week, is expected to appear in a federal courtroom in Riverside Thursday, according to The Times.
The criminal complaint and affidavit detailing the exact charges are under seal but are expected to be made public in connection with his court appearance.
Steven Frasher, a Riverside Police Department spokesman, confirmed that Nazario was terminated Aug. 7, but said he could not comment on the reasons or say whether it was linked to the massacre probe.
The former sergeant is being charged in civilian court because he is no longer a Marine. Naval Criminal Investigative Service agents are examining allegations against other members of Nazario's squad, who are still in the Corps, but referred Nazario's case to the U.S. attorney, sources told The Times.
The investigation involves the same company -- Kilo Company, 3rd Battalion, 1st Regiment -- that has become the focus of the worst alleged atrocity in Iraq, the killing of 24 civilians in Haditha on Nov. 19, 2005.
One senior Marine officer who was in Fallouja told The Times he was concerned that Nazario was being tried in a civilian court, where the jury might not "understand the reality of combat, understand the reality of Fallouja."
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