Friday, August 10, 2007
Haditha: Charges Dropped For Two Marines
Charges have been DROPPED for Charges have been dropped for two Marines accused in the 2005 killings of Iraqi civilians in Iraq, the U.S. Marine Corps said Thursday. From CNN (that would be not FOX News, for you head-in-the-sand
Lance Cpl. Justin I. Sharratt had been charged with shooting three Iraqi civilians in the aftermath of a roadside bombing in Haditha, and Capt. Randy W. Stone had been charged with dereliction of duty in failing to properly report facts connected to the murders.
Stone's error did not warrant any action under the Uniform Code of Military Justice, said Lt. Gen. James Mattis, the general overseeing the case.
"I am aware of the line that separates the merely remiss from the clearly criminal, and I do not believe that any mistakes Capt. Stone made with respect to the incident rise to the level of criminal behavior," Mattis said.
Twenty-four civilians were killed in what a human rights group and military prosecutors said was a house-to-house rampage by Marines after a bomb exploded, killing a Marine.
The events of November 19, 2005, were "exhaustively reviewed" by investigators, the statement discussing Sharratt said. The statement was released from the Marine Corps base at Camp Pendleton in California.
Charges against Sharratt were dismissed based on the review of the evidence and the recommendation of the investigating officer, Mattis said.
Sharratt said the Iraqis were shot at close range as Marines cleared a house where insurgents were thought to be firing.
Sharratt's attorney, Gary Myers, said last year, "Our view has been and continues to be that these were combat-related deaths."
The theory that Sharratt killed three men was "incredible" and relied on contradictory information from Iraqis, Lt. Col. Paul Ware, the hearing officer, said last month, The Associated Press reported.
The government's case lacked evidence, Ware said last month when he advised against going to trial, AP reported.
Mattis said troops in Iraq are "fighting a shadowy enemy who hides among the innocent people, does not comply with any aspect of the law of war, and routinely targets and intentionally draws fire toward civilians."
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