The Marine Corps is looking into several photographs posted on an entertainment gossip website on Wednesday that appear to show Marines burning Iraqi corpses.
TMZ posted eight of 41 photos they were told were taken in Fallujah in 2004. They show what appear to be Marines pouring fluid onto corpses and burning them. One photo shows a Marine appearing to go through a corpse’s pockets and another posing next to a skull on the ground.
The remaining 33 photos were too gruesome to post, TMZ reported.
Marine Corps Times obtained copies of the published photos from TMZ. Our staff reviewed the photos and opted against posting them until further clarification on the nature of the Marines’ behavior has been determined.
Capt. Eric Flanagan, a Marine spokesman at the Pentagon, said they’re reviewing the accuracy and circumstances surrounding the photos. They’re also trying to identify the service members involved, he added.
“The findings from this investigation will determine whether we are able to move forward with any investigation into possible wrongdoing,” Flanagan said.
Posing with human remains to obtain “trophy photos” violates the Uniform Code of Military Justice. Several Marines scout snipers, including former Sgt. Joseph Chamblin, Sgt. Edward Deptola and former Cpl. Rob Richards, who were filmed urinating on Taliban corpses during a 2011 deployment to Afghanistan, faced charges in connection to inappropriate photographs with casualties in the war-zone.
In the case of the burning corpses though, Col. Steve Warren, a Defense Department spokesman, told Stars and Stripes that it’s not immediately clear whether that’s a UCMJ violation.
“On the burning, you know, it’s hard to tell [whether it’s a violation],” Warren told Stripes. “While we don’t routinely burn human remains, there are circumstances when that might be necessary for hygiene, health — things like that.”