US Marine To Stand Trial Over Haditha Killings

US Marine To Stand Trial Over Haditha Killings

By SONJA DECHIAN | Published: JANUARY 5, 2012

The last defendant in the longest criminal case against US troops to arise from the Iraq War will stand trial in a military courtroom this week. Staff Sgt. Frank Wuterich was the leader of a Marine squad that killed 24 civilians in the Iraqi city of Haditha on November 19, 2005.

Wuterich, 31, sent his squadron into a village to hunt for insurgents after a roadside bomb killed one fellow marine and injured two others. Five unarmed Iraqi men pulled up in a car and were shot by Wuterich and another marine. The squadron then cleared several nearby homes killing nineteen people, including eleven women and children and a 76-year-old man in a wheelchair. No weapons were found, although Wuterich and his squadron maintain they came under fire.

Eight marines were charged with the killings but all except Wuterich have either been acquitted or had the charges dismissed or dropped. He faces nine charges of voluntary manslaughter and if convicted could face years in prison, however related cases have resulted in very light sentences, with military juries reluctant to convict peers.

In December last year, classified documents relating to the military investigation of the killings were discovered by a New York Times’ reporter in a junkyard in Baghdad.

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