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HANAU, Germany — A former commander of an Army captain accused of murdering an Iraqi described the young officer as trustworthy, disciplined, aggressive and independent.

Capt. Rogelio M. Maynulet’s “maturity was well above his peers,” said Col. Michael Ryan, director of the Joint Advance Warfighting Program, during an Article 32 hearing in Hanau.

The current situation aside, Ryan said Maynulet is “an exceptional officer,” one destined to become “easily a brigade commander or higher.”

But the current situation is very much in play.

The Army has charged the 29-year-old Maynulet with murder and dereliction of duty in the May 21 death of an Iraqi man near Kufa, south of Baghdad.

Wednesday’s session marked the resumption of a process that started a month ago in Baghdad. The Article 32 hearing, the equivalent of a civilian grand jury session, didn’t last long. After about a half hour, the session was adjourned until September. Attorneys said many of the key witnesses are 1st Armored Division troops on extended leave following their lengthy deployment to Iraq.

Ryan was the only person who gave testimony Wednesday. He spoke by telephone from his office near Washington, D.C.

The colonel first met Maynulet several years ago while the two were assigned to Fort Hood, Texas. Ryan was a battalion commander; Maynulet was a competent lieutenant who was eager to learn and prove himself, Ryan said. That chance came when their unit deployed to Bosnia and Herzegovina in 1998.

Ryan said Maynulet distinguished himself above the rest, leading the colonel to characterize the captain at Wednesday’s hearing as a rising star.

The two met three times during Maynulet’s deployment to Iraq. By then a company commander, Maynulet seemed to be proving everybody right.

On May 21, during an armed engagement near Kufa, Maynulet allegedly shot and killed an Iraqi man whose car had been shot up. Some troops have called it murder. Others view it as a mercy killing.

For now, the circumstances surrounding the case are murky.

Prosecutors are depicting Maynulet as a company commander who worked outside the rules of engagement for U.S. and coalition forces.

After Wednesday’s session, which also dealt with public disclosure of earlier testimony and potential expert witnesses, Maynulet declined to talk much about the case, referring reporters to an earlier interview in the Chicago Tribune in which he claimed: “I was doing my job.”


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