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Two U.S. soldiers charged with murder in Iraq

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  • NEW: 2 militants seized in connection with June 26 suicide bombing
  • Two men charged with killing Iraqi detainee, lying, obstructing justice
  • Detainee was initially thought to have been released in May
  • Pretrial investigation to begin August 15
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BAGHDAD, Iraq (CNN) -- Two U.S. soldiers were charged Saturday with the murder of an Iraqi detainee.

The coalition command in Iraq charged Staff Sgt. Hal M. Warner and 1st Lt. Michael C. Behenna with premeditated murder, assault, making a false official statement and obstruction of justice, according to a statement Saturday from the Multi-National Division.

The charges stemmed from a criminal investigation into the death of Ali Mansur Mohamed, a detainee initially believed to have been released by coalition forces in May, the statement said, without elaborating on the case.

Officials believe Mohamed was killed on or around May 16.

Behenna's charge sheet says that a few days later, he lied when he told another soldier that he dropped off Mohamed and another detainee with a branch of the Sons of Iraq, who are U.S.-allied Sunni fighters, said Maj. Margaret Kageleiry, a coalition spokeswoman.

A pretrial investigation for Warner is scheduled to start August 15 at a base near Tikrit. A date has not been set for Behenna's investigation.

No other details were immediately released.

Both soldiers are assigned to D Company, 1st Battalion, 327th Infantry at Forward Operating Base Summerall, near Bayji, about 120 miles south of Mosul.

In other developments, Iraqi President Jalal Talabani is traveling to the United States for a general medical checkup and to get treatment for a problem with his left knee, the government said Saturday.

Talabani leads the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan, one of the two main parties that control Iraqi Kurdistan.

Two suspected al Qaeda in Iraq members were seized in connection with the June 26 suicide bombing that left three U.S. Marines and several U.S.-backed Sunni sheikhs dead.

The blast occurred at a tribal sheikhs' meeting in Anbar province. The Islamic State of Iraq, a propaganda front for al Qaeda in Iraq, claimed responsibility for the strike, saying it targeted members of the "awakening" -- a grass-roots movement that opposes al Qaeda in Iraq.

The U.S. military said Friday that Iraqi soldiers detained the pair north of Baghdad on July 18. The military believes the two are linked to various al Qaeda in Iraq efforts, including one said to recruit "young boys" for suicide bombing missions.

Lt. Col. Max A. Galeai, 42, of Pago Pago, American Samoa, died in the blast. Galeai was a battalion commander who led more than 1,000 troops. He was one of the highest-ranking American officers to die in the war-torn country this year.

Capt. Philip J. Dykeman, 38, of Brockport, New York, and Cpl. Marcus W. Preudhomme, 23, of North Miami Beach, Florida, were also among the 25 people slain.

All About IraqU.S. Armed ForcesAl Qaeda in Iraq

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