PORTLAND (AP) – An investigation into the death of an Army reservist from Kennebunk who was killed in Iraq failed to reconcile conflicting information surrounding the soldier’s death, Maine’s senators have said.

Republican Sens. Olympia Snowe and Susan Collins both have sought a review of the report into the death of 1st Sgt. Christopher Coffin, saying it fails to answer basic questions about enemy action reported at the time.

The report states: “There was no evidence to support the media claims that the convoy was attacked by hostile fire before, during or after the accident.”

Coffin’s death has been investigated at three separate levels of the government, but members of Maine’s congressional delegation say it may take a fourth to finally resolve conflicting information.

The Inspector General for the Army’s investigation concurred with previous panels that Coffin, a 51-year old Army reservist, died last October from injuries he received when his vehicle rolled into a deep pit. But the 30-page recently released report did not determine whether Coffin’s convoy was under attack.

The report does not explain why, if there were no hostilities at the time, a witness reported hearing shots fired from an AK-47, why a mob of civilians set another convoy vehicle on fire after the accident and why the car that forced Coffin off the road was driving erratically, the senators said.

Initial Army reports also referred to another soldier in Coffin’s unit dying from an explosive device that day. Snowe has sought a review by top Army officials and Collins by the Department of Defense Inspector General.

Rep. Tom Allen, a Democrat, said it is important to be sure the Inspector General’s office has maintained its historical objectivity.

“Whether that tradition is maintained thoroughly in all instances I couldn’t say, that’s why sometimes you need outside investigations, which might well be the case in this situation,” Allen said.

Coffin’s death occurred at a time when the Defense Department was trying to minimize the number of casualties killed in hostile fire to downplay the level of armed resistance in Iraq, Allen said.

“What is troubling to all of us is there appears to be a conflict between what people say happened there and what the army said,” Allen said.

The report has not been released publicly but was provided to Coffin’s wife and Maine’s congressional delegation.

Maj. Shawn Jirik, Army spokeswoman, said it is standard policy not to make Inspector General investigative reports public, except in rare cases such as the inquiry into abuses at the Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq.


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