A US Army investigator has recommended that four American soldiers who face charges in connection with the rape and killing of 14-year-old girl and the killing of her family face a court-martial, a lawyer in the case confirmed.
Col Dwight Warren, the investigator in the case, said in a report issued on Sunday that "reasonable grounds exist to believe that each of the accused committed the offence for which he is charged."
The four soldiers of the 101st Airborne Division are charged with raping Abeer Qassim al-Janabi in her family's home in Mahmoudiya, about 30 kilometres south of Baghdad, then killing her along with her parents and her younger sister. Military prosecutors say the four set the teenager's body on fire in order to hide their crime.
The soldiers accused of rape and murder - Spc James P Barker, Sgt Paul E Cortez, Pfc Jesse V Spielman and Pfc Bryan L Howard - could potentially face the death penalty. Another soldier, Sgt Anthony W Yribe, is accused of failing to report the attack but is not alleged to have been a direct participant.
Another soldier who was said to have allegedly planned the attack, Pfc Steven D Green, was discharged from the army due to a "personality disorder" before the allegations became known.
He has pleaded not guilty to rape and murder charges and is being held in a civilian court in the United States.