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The Army has dropped its case against a Grafenwöhr, Germany-based soldier who was poised to stand trial on a conspiracy charge in connection with the execution of four Iraqi men in Baghdad last year.

Sgt. Charles Quigley of the 172nd Infantry Brigade was accused of being at the scene of the crime, but his attorney said Quigley should never have been charged with conspiring to kill.

"We have maintained from the beginning that SGT Quigley is not guilty of conspiring with other members of his unit to do anything unlawful to detainees," said Scot Sikes, Quigley’s civilian attorney in a prepared statement.

Though Quigley agreed to wear a wire to help the Criminal Investigation Command gather evidence and build a case against others involved in the killings, the military opted to push forward with the conspiracy charge against him.

Lt. Col. Eric Bloom, a spokesman for the Joint Multinational Readiness Center, confirmed Tuesday that the charge against Quigley was withdrawn and dismissed. The decision was based on new evidence that emerged during the court-martial of a fellow soldier, Staff Sgt. Jess Cunningham.

However, "Sergeant Quigley will face nonjudicial punishment for his failure to report the incident after it occurred," Bloom said.

Sikes welcomed the decision to dismiss, though they were prepared to make the case for Quigley’s innocence.

"We believe that recent revelations from SSG Cunningham, SGT Quigley’s former squad leader in Iraq, have helped the voice of reason to ring loudly — albeit on the eve of trial. While the defense was prepared to sound that bell at trial, we are pleased that the Army leadership has chosen ‘to do the right thing’ today and withdraw the charge with prejudice," Sikes wrote.

Quigley’s court-martial was scheduled to start Tuesday.

Cunningham also faced charges of conspiracy for his role in the alleged execution of the Iraqis by three U.S. noncommissioned officers in April 2007. But on Feb. 12, the JMTC dismissed all charges against Cunningham, who blew the whistle on the killings in January last year.

During an Article 32 hearing in August, witnesses testified that Cunningham was at the scene when the Iraqis were shot and thrown into a canal. However, he remained in a vehicle and declined to participate in the killings, they said.

The Army has charged the alleged shooters — 1st Sgt. John E. Hatley, Sgt. 1st Class Joseph P. Mayo and Sgt. Michael P. Leahy Jr. — all formerly assigned to 1st Battalion, 18th Infantry Regiment, with one specification each of premeditated murder, conspiracy to commit premeditated murder and obstruction of justice.

Leahy was convicted of premeditated murder last week and received a life sentence with the possibility of parole.

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John covers U.S. military activities across Europe and Africa. Based in Stuttgart, Germany, he previously worked for newspapers in New Jersey, North Carolina and Maryland. He is a graduate of the University of Delaware.
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