[US soldier pouring gasoline on the bodies of Iraqi fighters]
Elham Asaad Buaras
Forty one gruesome photographs depicting US marines burning the bodies Iraqi fighters, rifling through their pockets and grinning while pointing their weapons at their skeletons emerged on January 14.
Other horrific pictures show a Marine squatting next to a skull to pose for the camera.
Entertainment website TMZ.com which obtained the images say they withheld majority of the images – including one showing a body being eaten by a dog – because they are just too graphic.
The volatile photos, believed to be taken in Fallujah in 2004, have already sparked a military investigation.
Two photos show a soldier pouring gasoline on a man and other two images show the remains go up in flames. Two more capture the horrifically charred bodies.
TMZ.com turned the photos of a dozen dead insurgents in various states, including some covered in flies, over to the Pentagon triggering an investigation into the undiscovered photos.
The Department of Defense said the US soldiers were in violation of the Uniform Code of Military Justice, which deems it a crime to mishandle remains.
There is no statute of limitations on the crime, which means the Marines can be prosecuted even if they’re no longer active in the military. If convicted, the soldiers could go to prison.
The Marine Corps is currently investigating the veracity of these photos, circumstances involved, and if possible, the identities of the service members involved.
Some have suggested the Marines may have been burning the remains as a sanitary measure.
However, Pentagon spokesman, Army Col Steven Warren, said the handling of remains is set by US military regulation and that the actions depicted in the photos “are not what we expect from our service members.”
In 2005 report, US soldiers in Gumbad, Afghanistan, were investigated for burning the bodies of two enemy fighters.
The men argued they set alight the corpses for hygienic reasons, after local citizens had not retrieved the bodies after 24 hours.
A report concluded that the action indicated poor judgment but was not a war crime.
It stated: “Based on the criminal investigation, there was no evidence to substantiate the allegation of desecration or any violation of the Law of War. However, there was evidence of poor decision-making and judgment, poor reporting and lack of knowledge and respect for local Afghan customs and tradition.”