No cold blooded murder charges in Haditha cases

North County Times:

Two Marines involved in the slaying of 24 Iraqi civilians and its aftermath in Haditha in 2005 have been ordered to trial by court-martial.

A Marine Corps spokesman said Monday that Staff Sgt. Frank Wuterich will face trial on charges of voluntary manslaughter, aggravated assault, reckless endangerment, dereliction of duty and obstruction of justice.

Also ordered to stand trial is 1st Lt. Andrew Grayson, who faces charges of making false official statements, obstruction of justice and attempting to fraudulently separate from the Marine Corps.

The two join Lt. Col. Jeffrey Chessani and Lance Cpl. Stephen Tatum as having been ordered to trial for their actions following a roadside bombing at Haditha on Nov. 19, 2005.

Wuterich led a squad from the 3rd Battalion, 1st Marine Regiment's Kilo Company in a house-to-house search following the bombing that killed one Marine and injured two others.

During those searches, 19 Iraqis were killed. The slain included several women and children and five men who emerged from a car moments after the bombing.

Chessani, who was the battalion commander at Haditha, faces trial on dereliction of duty for failing to fully investigate the incident.

Tatum faces manslaughter charges.

It will be difficult to convict them on the charges that are brought. It would have been impossible to convict them of "cold blooded murder as alleged by Congressman Jack Murtha. When you are facing an enemy who camouflages himself as a civilian and uses civilian shields it is impossible not to make mistakes, because it is the war crimes of the enemy that put the civilians at risk. The defense should be able to make that point at the time of the trial.


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