US marines to face Haditha trial

Twenty-four Iraqi civilians were killed in the Haditha incident.

    Lieutenant-Colonel Chessani was one of four officers initially charged in Haditha killings [AP]

    Court testimony has shown that marines in the unit shot dead five unarmed men after ordering them out of a car, and then killed 19 other people, including women and children in two nearby houses.

     

    The killings came shortly after a marine was killed by a roadside bomb in the town, and prosecutors allege that the deaths were retaliatory.

     

    The second man, Lance Corporal Stephen Tatum is charged with involuntary manslaughter and other charges. The original charges of murder against him have been dropped.

     

    Tatum was one of the marines who "cleared" the homes in the incident, according to testimony.

     

    Failure to investigate

     

    At Chessani's preliminary hearing in June at Camp Pendleton, several witnesses testified that local Iraqis had complained to Chessani about the killings and that he promised to look into what had happened.

     

    Chessani passed on a letter from the Haditha town council asking for a investigation into the killings, but did not begin an investigation.

     

    Chessani said he never ordered a formal investigation because he believed the deaths resulted from lawful combat.

     

    Chessani was relieved of his marine command in April 2006. He could face up to three years in prison if convicted.

     

    The prosecution, however, has already lost some momentum, with charges dismissed against four men since it began last December.

     

    A decision on whether to go ahead with a court martial against Staff Sergeant Frank Wuterich, the man who lead the unit and who has admitted to shooting some of the Iraqi civilians, is yet to be announced. Wuterich said he acted in a response to attacks.

     

    An preliminary hearing against one other marine is scheduled to take place in the coming weeks.

    SOURCE: Agencies


    YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE

    Double standards: 'Why aren't we all with Somalia?'

    Double standards: 'Why aren't we all with Somalia?'

    More than 300 people died in Somalia but some are asking why there was less news coverage and sympathy on social media.

    The life and death of Salman Rushdie, gentleman author

    The life and death of Salman Rushdie, gentleman author

    The man we call 'Salman Rushdie' today is not the brilliant author of the Satanic Verses, but a Picassoesque imposter.

    The Beirut Spy: Shula Cohen

    The Beirut Spy: Shula Cohen

    The story of Shula Cohen, aka The Pearl, who spied for the Israelis in Lebanon for 14 years.