A military judge at Fort Hood, Texas, has approved a request to exhume the body of an alleged Iraqi drowning victim prosecutors say was killed after being pushed into a river by troops based at Fort Carson.
Attorneys for First Lieutenant Jack Saville made the request. They say Saville did not order other soldiers to push the man into the Tigris River, and say the alleged victim is still alive.
The 24-year-old Saville is a West Point graduate charged with involuntary manslaughter, conspiracy, obstruction of justice and other crimes. Fellow 4th Infantry Division soldier Sergeant First Class Tracy Perkins faces the same charges. If convicted at court-martial, they could get up to 29 years in prison.
Perkins and Saville are accused of ordering soldiers to push two Iraqis into the river in January as punishment for violating curfew. Prosecutors say 19-year-old Zaidoun Hassoun drowned.
During a July hearing at Fort Carson, investigators acknowledged they never saw a body. They said they relied on the word of relatives and a family videotape showing a corpse in a coffin. Three soldiers on patrol that night testified they saw two Iraqis climbing out of the river.
Perkins is scheduled to go to trial next month. It's unclear whether the judge's order would affect Perkins' court-martial.