In announcing the charges, Marine Colonel Stewart Navarre said a press release issued the day after the killings wrongly reported that 15 Iraqi civilians were killed by a roadside bomb and that marines and Iraqi army soldiers killed eight fighters in a subsequent firefight.
Lance Cpl Stephen Tatum:
Lance Cpl Justin L Sharratt:
Staff Sgt Frank D Wuterich:
Sgt Sanick Dela Cruz:
Unpremeditated murder and providing a false official statement
1st Lt Andrew
Dereliction, providing a false official statement and obstructing justice
Capt Lucas McConnell: Dereliction
Capt Randy Stone: Violation of a lawful order and dereliction
Lt Col Jeffrey Chessani:
“We now know with certainty … that none of the civilians were killed by the IED (improvised explosive device) explosion,” he said.
Marine Corps squad leader Staff Sergeant Frank Wuterich, 26, who led the squad, was charged with 13 counts of murder.
The documents did not explain why Wuterich was not charged in all 24 deaths.
Others charged with murder are Sgt Sanick Dela Cruz, 24, Lance Cpl Justin Sharratt, 22, and Lance Cpl Stephen Tatum, 25.
The remaining four marines are charged with “failure to properly report and/or investigate the deaths.
“The reporting of the incident up the chain of command was inaccurate and untimely,” Navarre said.
John Sifton, senior researcher with New York-based Human Rights Watch, welcomed the charges but said accountability for the killings needed to run further up the chain of command.
He said: “If the military really wants to stop future abuses it shouldn’t just focus on low-level offenders, it needs to focus on the systemic issues that lead to war crimes.”
Frank Wuterich’s lawyers argued that the marines were engaged in a battle [AP]