Hearing begins in contractor stabbing case
The Article 32 hearing for a contractor in Iraq accused of stabbing another civilian worker began Tuesday with testimony from an investigator and witnesses to the incident, officials said Wednesday.
Alaa “Alex” Mohammad Ali is the first civilian worker to be charged in a military court under a change in the Uniform Code of Military Justice that gives the military jurisdiction over contractors.
Ali faces charges of aggravated assault in the Feb. 23 stabbing of another contractor at a combat outpost near Hit, Iraq. The hearing is being held at the Liberty Court Room on Camp Liberty near Baghdad. Lt. Col. Charles E. Febus is the investigating officer for the hearing, which is akin to a civilian grand jury.
The day of testimony included a Criminal Investigation Command agent and witnesses of the alleged assault.
Febus ruled that the military and civilian witnesses were “not reasonably available” to testify in person due to their remote locations, so testimony was taken via video teleconference, officials said.
At the end of the Article 32 hearing, the investigating officer will determine whether there is probable cause and make a recommendation on whether the case will go to court-martial to the convening authority, in this case Lt. Gen. Lloyd J. Austin III, commander of Multi-National Corps-Iraq.
Ali has been held at Camp Victory since Feb. 29, when he was arrested for stabbing a fellow translator four times in the chest, the military said. Ali is represented by two military lawyers, Maj. Javier E. Rivera and Capt. Clay Compton. The prosecution is Maj. Terri J. Erisman and Capt. Cal Cunningham, officials said.
Ali has Canadian and Iraqi citizenship.
It is the first time since 1968 that a contractor has been charged under military law. The case is the first since Congress gave the military authority over contractors in 2006 following scandals like the Blackwater shooting incident.