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Sep-16-2009 00:23printcomments

Documentary Article 32 Explores Story of Hamdandia Marines

Following this week's Big Apple showing, Sikorski and the film will head west for the Oceanside International Film Festival that takes place Oct. 15 to 18.

The scene of Hashim Ibrahim Awad's death
The scene of Hashim Ibrahim Awad's death; he was a retired Iraqi policeman and father of 11. Courtesy: article32film.com

(NEW YORK) - A documentary film chronicling a Camp Pendleton squad convicted in the 2006 kidnapping and killing of an Iraqi man debuts in New York this week and will be screened in Oceanside next month.

"Article 32" was produced primarily by Don Sikorski, who began working on the project two years ago, after the seven Marines and a Navy medical corpsman were prosecuted for the killing of Hashim Ibrahim Awad, a retired Iraqi policeman and father of 11.

The 65-minute film tells the story of the 3rd Battalion, 5th Marine Regiment Kilo Company squad initially charged with capital murder.

After several plea deals and clemency orders, none of the Marines served more than 15 months except for the squad leader, Larry Hutchins III, who was convicted of murder and is serving an 11-year-prison term that is the subject of an ongoing appeal.

Article 32 is a reference to the pretrial hearing that takes place in military courts to determine whether criminal charges warrant going forward to trial.

Sikorski said the film is not an attempt to retry the case, but to tell the story of a group of young men at war in Iraq during the height of the insurgency in Anbar province west of Baghdad.

"It was a horrible place at the time and these guys were essentially asked to do what was considered intelligence missions, which they were never trained for," Sikorski said Monday during a telephone interview. "They were sort of in this moral gray area with commanders telling them they didn't care what they did as long as they got information to pass up the chain of command."

Testimony from the men who reached plea agreements consistently showed that the squad planned to kidnap and kill a known insurgent in Hamdania, an agricultural village where Marines were subject to frequent attacks from roadside bombs and small-arms fire in 2006.

When that man could not be found, a "snatch team" went to Awad's house, took him from his bed, bound and gagged him and shot him to death. The squad was arrested a few days later, after Awad's relatives complained to military authorities, and was immediately returned to Camp Pendleton and placed in the base brig.

Despite the testimony from several of those who pleaded guilty, supporters argued that none of them should have been charged and continued to call for a reduction in Hutchins' prison sentence.

In his first-ever public interview, Hutchins told the North County Times on Aug. 29 that he feels remorse for what happened at Hamdania.

Hutchins also said he hopes to gain an early release from the military prison at Fort Leavenworth, Kan., by winning his appeal or being granted parole. While Hutchins is not in the film, Sikorski interviews several of the men who were charged along with him.

Also appearing are Awad's family members, who were interviewed by an Iraqi film crew Sikorski hired.

"They seem to be still confused as to why this happened to their family and why their father was killed," he said.

Following this week's Big Apple showing, Sikorski and the film will head west for the Oceanside International Film Festival that takes place Oct. 15 to 18.

He also is working on dates to show the film at Camp Pendleton.

"I hope the viewer takes away the fact that these kids were being asked to make harrowing decisions at a time when I don't think people back in the U.S. realized what was really going on in Iraq," Sikorski said.

More information and a trailer for the film can be found at: article32film.com.

This Salem-News.com article ny Kit Lange regards the Marines at Hamandia: Pendleton 8 Exposed - The Real Story, Part 1 - By Kit Lange Special to Salem-News.com




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Sean Flynn was a photojournalist in Vietnam, taken captive in 1970 in Cambodia and never seen again.

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