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5 UK marines charged with murder in Afghan death

Associated Press Modified: October 14, 2012 at 6:45 am •  Published: October 14, 2012

British troops operate under rules of engagement, largely derived from the Geneva Convention, that dictate under what circumstances they are allowed to open fire.

"Everybody serving in theatre knows the rules of engagement," Defense Secretary Philip Hammond said Sunday, vowing that "any abuse will be dealt with."

Experts say the military has been strict about enforcing the rules after a disastrous period in Iraq, where there were multiple allegations of torture and abuse by British troops.

The most notorious case involved a hotel receptionist, Baha Mousa, who died while in custody at a British base after being detained in a raid in Basra in September 2003. Britain's defense authorities later apologized for the mistreatment of Mousa and nine other Iraqis and paid a $4.8 million (3 million pound) settlement. Six soldiers were cleared of wrongdoing at a court martial, while another pleaded guilty and served a year in jail.