Wednesday, December 06, 2006

At Least Five Marines To Be Charged for Haditha Killings

The WaPo reports that at least five, and possibly six or seven, Marines will be charged with crimes ranging from negligent homicide to murder for the November, 2005, massacre of 24 unarmed civilians in Haditha, Iraq:

Though it was nearly certain that marines would be charged with crimes for the killings, exactly when the charges would be made official was unclear, military officials and defense lawyers involved in the case said. But they said charges could closely follow a closed-door briefing by Lt. Gen. Richard F. Natonski, the Marine Corps deputy commandant for plans, policies and operations, to the House Armed Services Committee on Wednesday morning.

That briefing will relate the findings of a military inquiry into how the Marine Corps managed its investigation of the slayings, which began with an inquiry in March, four months after the killings occurred, the Pentagon official said. Aides to committee members said Marine officials promised a confidential briefing before any charges were announced.

According to the Marine official and the defense lawyer representing one of the marines under investigation, criminal charges will be filed against Staff Sgt. Frank D. Wuterich, 26, of Meriden, Conn., the squad’s leader; Lance Cpl. Stephen Tatum, 25, of Edmund, Okla.; Lance Cpl. Justin Sharratt, 21, of Carbondale, Penn.; Cpl. Sanick Dela Cruz, 24, of Chicago; and Cpl. Hector Salinas, 22, of Houston.

The five marines are said to have been the ones who killed the 24 Iraqis, including five men in a taxi that approached the marines' convoy after the explosion that killed a 20-year-old lance corporal and 19 other civilians in several houses nearby. About 10 of the dead were women and children who appeared to have been killed by rifle fire at close range, military officials said.

Via Jeralyn at TalkLeft, here is background on the Haditha killings.

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