The new Iraqi ambassador to the United States has accused US Marines of "intentionally" killing a cousin in the Iraqi town of Haditha last year.
Speaking only hours after presenting his credentials to President George W Bush at the White House, Ambassador Samir al-Sumaidaie said his relative was shot dead five months before the killing of 24 civilians in the town in November that is now the subject of a controversial inquiry.
The ambassador told how Mohammed al-Sumaidaie, a 21-year-old engineering student, was killed after opening the door of the family house to US Marines on June 25.
"I believe he was killed intentionally. I believe he was killed unnecessarily," Mr Sumaidaie said on CNN television.
"The Marines were doing house-to-house searches, and they went into the house of my cousin. He opened the door for them. His mother, his siblings were there. He let them into the bedroom of his father, and there he was shot."
Here's the transcript from CNN.
BLITZER: But even months before the incident in November, you lost a cousin at Haditha in a separate battle involving United States Marines.
SUMAIDAIE: Well, that was not a battle at all. Marines were doing house-to-house searches, and they went into the house of my cousin. He opened the door for them.
His mother, his siblings were there. He led them into the bedroom of his father. And there he was shot.
BLITZER: Who shot him?
SUMAIDAIE: A member of the Marines.
BLITZER: Why did they shoot him?
SUMAIDAIE: Well, they said that they shot him in self-defense. I find that hard to believe because, A, he is not at all a violent -- I mean, I know the boy. He was [in] a second-year engineering course in the university. Nothing to do with violence. All his life has been studies and intellectual work.
Totally unbelievable. And, in fact, they had no weapon in the house. They had one weapon which belonged to the school where his father was a headmaster. And it had no ammunition in it. And he led them into the room to show it to them.
BLITZER: So what you're suggesting, your cousin was killed in cold blood, is that what you're saying, by United States Marines?
SUMAIDAIE: I believe he was killed intentionally. I believe that he was killed unnecessarily. And unfortunately, the investigations that took place after that sort of took a different course and concluded that there was no unlawful killing.
I would like further investigation. I have, in fact, asked for the report of the last investigation, which was a criminal investigation, by the way.
[Gen. George Casey, the top U.S. commander in Iraq] is aware of all the details, because he's kept on top of it. And it was he who rejected the conclusions of the first investigation. I have since asked formally for the report, but it's been nearly two months, and I have not received it.
BLITZER: Did you raise these concerns you had with the president today when you were at the White House presenting your credentials?
SUMAIDAIE: No, I did not, because I did not want to bring a personal note into a much wider brief that I have here.
This is astonishing. It is absolutely unbelievable that an ambassador from a country which we OCCUPY would say something like that, in public, in an accusatory fashion, just hours after meeting the President.
Either this guy is so angry at the U.S. that he just does not give a crap about offending us anymore, or - in the wake of Abu Ghraib and Haditha - he considers it far more important and wise to appeal to anti-American sentiment in his own country than to placate US.
This does NOT say good things about our future there.