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U.S. Military Hearing Iraqi Rape-Slaying Case --> (file photo) (CTK) August 6, 2006 -- U.S. military prosecutors today began a hearing to decide whether to prosecute four soldiers accused of raping and killing a 14-year-old Iraqi girl and murdering three of her relatives.

The four could face the death penalty if found guilty of the March 12 attacks in Al-Mahmudiyah, south of Baghdad.

The hearing, taking place in Baghdad, is expected to last several days. Some of it will be held in secret, including some testimony from witnesses.

A fifth soldier, charged with failing to report the attacks, will be tried separately in a U.S. civilian court.

The rape-slaying case is the latest in a series of high-profile scandals involving the conduct of U.S. soldiers in Iraq.

(AFP, AP, Reuters)