Iraq’s US envoy wants to see cousin’s death report

By Deepa Babington

HOUSTON (Reuters) – Iraq’s U.S. ambassador said on
Wednesday he was still waiting to hear from the U.S. military
on the shooting death of his cousin last year that he once
described as “coldblooded murder” by U.S. troops.

Two months after asking for a copy, Samir Sumaidaie said he
had yet to receive access to a U.S. military report that
absolved its troops of all blame in the incident.

His frustration comes as the military investigates other
incidents involving civilian deaths at the hands of American
troops. Many Iraqis complain that unjustified killings of
civilians by American troops are common, although few have been
confirmed officially by investigations.

“In this particular case, all I’m asking for is a copy of
the report. I’m still waiting,” Sumaidaie told Reuters in an
interview at a U.S-Arab economic forum in Houston.

“They have written to me and said it will take time. Now,
two months seems to me is more than enough time to deliver a
report.”

Sumaidaie said he believed the U.S. military’s conclusion
it was not at fault was wrong, but found it hard to dispute
that properly until he saw the report.

“That is inconsistent with what I know happened to my
family,” Sumaidaie said. “I’m very disappointed to learn that
the investigation did not show any wrongdoing.”

The envoy has said his cousin, Mohammed Sumaidaie, 21, was
killed last June while showing Marines conducting
house-to-house searches an old rifle without live ammunition.
When the Marines left, the young man was found in the bedroom
with a bullet in his neck, the ambassador said at the time.

“All indications point to a killing of an unarmed innocent
civilian — a coldblooded murder,” Sumaidaie said last year.

During the probe, the U.S. military interviewed family
members but did not take up an offer to let forensic experts
exhume and inspect the body, Sumaidaie said on Wednesday.

Still, he believes killings of Iraqi civilians by U.S.
troops are an aberration, but that probes into such incidents
should be conducted as a joint effort with some “independent
element” in it, rather than by troops alone.

“Clearly members of the same platoon who have gone through
life-and-death struggles, they bond, and it’s a human
inclination to protect each other,” he said.

(Additional reporting by Manuela Badawy and Matt Daily)

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