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U.S. Marines will retry sergeant accused of killing Iraqi civilian

U.S. Marine Sgt. Lawrence G. Hutchins III (back R) arrives with his civilian defence counsel J. Richardson Brannon (front R) and military defence counsel Lt Col Joseph S. Smith (front L) and Captain Alan Bass for his Article 32 Investigation hearing at Camp Pendleton, California, in this October 16, 2006 file photo.
CREDIT: REUTERS/MIKE BLAKE/FILES
U.S. Marine Sgt. Lawrence G. Hutchins III (back R) arrives with his civilian defence counsel J. Richardson Brannon (front R) and military defence counsel Lt Col Joseph S. Smith (front L) and Captain Alan Bass for his Article 32 Investigation hearing at Camp Pendleton, California, in this October 16, 2006 file photo. CREDIT: REUTERS/MIKE BLAKE/FILES

By Dan Whitcomb

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - A U.S. Marine sergeant who was found guilty of murder in the 2006 death of an Iraqi civilian, only to have his conviction overturned, will face a retrial on the same charges, a Marine spokesman said on Monday.

Sergeant Lawrence Hutchins III will be arraigned at the Camp Pendleton Marine Base in California on Wednesday, Lieutenant Colonel Joseph Kloppel said.

The case was one of the biggest war crimes to emerge from the Middle East conflict, touching off a furor both in the United States and in Iraq.

Hutchins was the leader of a squad of Marines that went on a mission aimed at stopping militants' use of improvised explosive devices in the village of Hamdania, Iraq, in the early morning hours of April 26, 2006.

Witnesses said Hutchins and another Marine shot 52-year-old Hashim Ibrahim Awad, a father of 11 and grandfather of four, and placed an AK-47 and a shovel next to the corpse to suggest he had been planting a bomb.

Earlier, Awad had been bound and gagged at another location, according to a finding by a lower court of appeal for the military.

In 2007, a court-martial at Camp Pendleton Marine Corps base north of San Diego sentenced Hutchins to 15 years in military prison after finding him guilty of unpremeditated murder and other crimes. The sentence was later reduced to 11 years.

Hutchins served six years in prison before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces overturned his conviction following lengthy legal proceedings. The appeals court found that Hutchins gave a statement to a U.S. Navy investigator while in custody that should have been ruled inadmissible.

(Reporting by Dan Whitcomb; Editing by Cynthia Johnston, Eric Walsh and Lisa Shumaker)

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