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Iraq Transition

Iraqi leader wants probe into rape, killings

Al-Maliki demands review of immunity for U.S.-led coalition troops

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BAGHDAD, Iraq (CNN) -- Iraq's prime minister on Wednesday called for an independent Iraqi investigation or at least a joint U.S.-Iraqi probe into the March killings of an Iraqi female and three members of her family as well as her alleged rape.

Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki, speaking at a press conference in Kuwait, also called for a review of coalition forces' immunity from Iraqi prosecution, saying such an exemption emboldens those troops.

Former U.S. Army Pvt. Steven D. Green, 21, of the 101st Airborne Division has been charged with killing four Iraqis -- a man, a girl and two older females, one of whom he allegedly raped.

Court documents say that Green and other soldiers entered the family's home in Mahmoudiya, south of Baghdad, and Green allegedly killed three family members -- including a girl of about 5 -- before raping a female and shooting her to death.

Different ages have been cited for the rape victim. The FBI affidavit supporting the arrest puts her age at 25. The U.S. military said she was 20. Fadhel Saif, the mayor of Mahmoudiya, told CNN he has heard the victim was 16.

No one else has been charged, but military investigators said they have linked four other soldiers to the violence.

The killings have sparked an outcry across Iraq and demands for severe punishment for the perpetrators.

In a scathing statement, the Iraqi Islamic Party, the Sunni political movement, said the country must take a clear stand against these "immoral violations."

"The punishment for the perpetrators of this crime should be severe and they should stand trial in an Iraqi court," the group said.

"The occupation forces have continuously committed crimes and crossed the line by torturing prisoners, bombing homes, massacring families, destroying land and property and raiding hospitals.

"And now their latest crime, a heinous one, revealed -- the rape of a pure Mahmoudiya girl of no more than 16 years of age -- assaulting her, then killing her and her family and burning them; this was committed by a group of morally perverted American soldiers," the statement said.

The Mahmoudiya investigation is the latest in a series involving U.S. troops alleged to have participated in civilian killings in Iraq.

Besides Green, four other soldiers from the 101st Airborne have been charged with murder in the killings of three Iraqi prisoners in northern Iraq in May. Seven Marines and a Navy medic have been charged with killing an Iraqi man near Hamdaniya in April. Two soldiers have been charged in connection with the February killing of an Iraqi man in Ramadi.

A probe also is examining allegations Marines killed up to 24 Iraqi civilians in Haditha in November after a Marine died in a roadside blast.

The "acts of a few should not outweigh the deeds of the many," Maj. Gen. William Caldwell, spokesman for coalition forces in Iraq, told reporters Wednesday.

These forces "put their lives on the line for Iraqi citizens" every day, he said. He compared the U.S. sense of accountability with Saddam Hussein's ousted regime, which he said was unaccountable.

Parliament member: Kidnappers make demands

People claiming to have kidnapped an Iraqi lawmaker have contacted her political party and issued demands for her release, an Iraqi parliament member said Wednesday.

Tayseer al-Mashhadani reportedly was abducted Saturday in Baghdad.

The purported kidnappers used the lawmaker's cell phone to call the Iraqi Accord Front, the Sunni political coalition, and demanded a timetable for the withdrawal of coalition troops, the freeing of all prisoners and a halt in attacks on mosques.

They said the lawmaker would be killed if authorities didn't meet the demands within three days, said the parliamentarian, who didn't want to be identified.

Security zone for Ramadi?

The U.S. military is considering the construction of a security bulwark -- or mini-Green Zone -- for the government center of Ramadi, the capital of Anbar province west of Baghdad.

U.S. forces have encircled Ramadi in recent weeks, embarking on operations to restore control of the city. Anbar, Iraq's largest province, is largely Sunni, and U.S. and Iraqi forces have battled insurgents in Euphrates River Valley towns there over the last year.

Referring to Baghdad's heavily fortified sector for Iraqi and U.S. authorities, Col. Sean MacFarland said, "Well, I don't like to use the term Green Zone. ... But we are looking at options for the area around the government center. We're looking for ways to make lemonade out of lemons."

Other developments

  • A car bomb detonated Wednesday on a main road in central Baghdad, killing six civilians and wounding 19 others, emergency police said.
  • The U.S. military has noted a slight increase in car bombs in the Iraqi capital and foresees an emphasis on these explosive devices, said Caldwell, the coalition spokesman, on Wednesday. Caldwell attributed the rise to the specialty of new al Qaeda in Iraq leader Abu Ayyub al-Masri. Osama bin Laden's latest audio message identified the new leader as Abu Hamza al-Muhajer. Senior U.S. military sources say al-Masri and al-Muhajer are the same person.
  • An Iraqi suspected of being an associate of a militant linked to the Al-Askariya Mosque bombing was killed Wednesday in a raid southeast of Samarra, the U.S. military said. The unnamed Iraqi was an associate of Haitham al-Badri, suspected of playing a key role in planning the Shiite shrine's February 22 bombing that triggered a wave of sectarian violence.
  • CNN's Arwa Damon and Jomana Karadsheh contributed to this report.

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