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A U.S. Army staff sergeant has been charged with premeditated murder in the deaths of two soldiers — including the suspect's commanding officer.
The two suffered fatal wounds in a series of June 7 explosions that struck as they conferred in a room on a base, situated on the compound of a former palace of Saddam Hussein. The two officers died the next day. Officials initially reported that the explosions were mortar strikes.
The charges against Staff Sgt. Alberto B. Martinez, 37, are believed to represent the first suspected case of "fragging," military slang for the killing of an officer by a subordinate, in Iraq. Allegations of fragging, so named because many cases involved hand grenades, known to troops as frags, became infamous during the Vietnam War, when some discontented U.S. troops turned on their superiors.
Authorities did not talk about a possible motive in the Iraq case, saying that a criminal investigation is continuing. But authorities indicated that Capt. Phillip T. Esposito, who was Martinez's commanding officer, was believed to be the target of the explosions.