Pennsylvania Guardsman Cleared in Iraqi’s Death

BAGHDAD, Iraq – The U.S. military has dismissed all charges against a Pennsylvania National Guardsman accused of killing an unarmed Iraq civilian near Ramadi, finding that the soldier had reason to believe the man had a weapon.

Spc. Nathan Lynn, 21, of South Williamsport, was accused of voluntary manslaughter and conspiracy to obstruct justice over the death of Gani Ahmed Zaben during a Feb. 15 raid on a suspect’s house.

Lynn will return to his unit soon, U.S. military officials in Baghdad said Sunday.

“I’m tickled pink,” Lynn’s grandmother, Shirley Lynn, told The Patriot-News of Harrisburg. “It’s the way it should be. Nate’s not that type of kid. He’s always been a good boy.”

Another soldier, Sgt. Milton Ortiz Jr., 36, of Islip, N.Y., still faces one count of obstructing justice for allegedly conspiring with another soldier to put an AK-47 near the Iraqi’s body.

An Article 32 — the military equivalent of a grand jury hearing — concluded last week.

Charges were brought against Lynn last month after several murder investigations involving U.S. troops in Iraq prompted questions about their behavior and complaints from the Iraqi government about a culture of impunity among American soldiers.

Lynn and Ortiz belonged to a combat team whose members began returning home last month.

The allegations against Lynn and Ortiz surfaced as seven Marines and a Navy medic face charges they killed an Iraqi civilian and covered up the crime in April, and four Army soldiers are facing murder charges in the shooting deaths of three Iraq civilians in May.

A group of Marines also is under investigation in the deaths of 24 Iraqi civilians in Haditha last year, and five soldiers and a former Army private face charges related to the rape and murder of a teenage girl and her family in Mahmoudiya.

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