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Friday, December 22, 2006

Marines face death penalty in Haditha killing


Marines Charge 4 With Murder of Iraq Civilians

Published: December 22, 2006

Four marines were charged yesterday with murder in the killings of two dozen Iraqi civilians, including at least 10 women and children, in the village of Haditha last year, military officials said at Camp Pendleton, Calif.

Military prosecutors also charged four officers, including a lieutenant colonel in charge of the First Marine Regiment’s Third Battalion, with dereliction of duty and failure to ensure that accurate information about the killings was delivered up the Marine Corps’ chain of command. A military investigation has found evidence that Marine officers may have obscured certain facts in the case.

The Marines could punish other ranking officers administratively in weeks to come. But the criminal charges filed yesterday against Lt. Col. Jeffrey R. Chessani, 42, and three other officers reflect an unusually aggressive judicial reaction by military prosecutors to a massacre that has damaged the military’s credibility with Iraqi officials and civilians, military justice experts said.

“This is very aggressive charging — wow,” said Gary Solis, who teaches the law of war at Georgetown University Law Center and at West Point. “I think this illustrates the deep seriousness the Marine Corps takes with these events.”

He added, “I definitely think the Marine Corps is sending a message to commanders, to those in authority of combat troops, that they better pay close attention to the activities of their subordinates to ensure that there was no wrongdoing.”

Though this was not the first instance of American forces being charged with killing Iraqi civilians, the charges announced yesterday, including 13 counts of murder against one sergeant alone, Staff Sgt. Frank Wuterich, 26, suggest that military prosecutors view the Haditha killings as being among the most serious breaches of military rules in the nearly four-year war. The charges are a result of two military investigations into the actions of members of Company K, Third Battalion, First Marine Regiment after a roadside bomb killed one of their comrades shortly after 7 a.m. on Nov. 19, 2005, in Haditha, a village in a region northwest of Baghdad that is rife with Sunni Arab insurgents.

A total of 24 Iraqis, nearly all of them unarmed, were killed by several marines in a series of attacks on a car and three nearby homes over the next several hours, military officials said.

The four enlisted men charged with unpremeditated murder, all members of a squad of Company K, Third Battalion, First Marine Regiment, are: Sergeant Wuterich of Meriden, Conn.; Sgt. Sanick De La Cruz, 24, of Chicago; Lance Cpl. Justin L. Sharratt, 22, of Carbondale, Pa.; and Lance Cpl. Stephen B. Tatum, 25, of Edmund, Okla.

This is the Iraq War Slovik case. They have six murder trials for soldiers serving in Iraq. The government is going to try and kill all of the defendents charged with murder.


In January, 1945, Private Eddie Slovik was executed for desertion under fire. There had been 10000 cases, but they had to do something, and Slovak was that something.

posted by Steve @ 12:45:00 AM

12:45:00 AM

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