Lawyers for US Marines squad leader call for probe of Haditha report leak

[JURIST] Attorneys for Marine Staff Sgt. Frank D. Wuterich, charged with the killing of Iraqi civilians in Haditha [USMC timeline; JURIST news archive], have asked Marine Lt. Gen. James Mattis to launch an investigation into the leak of a Naval Criminal Investigative Service (NCIS) [official website] report after the Washington Post earlier this month printed photos of Iraqis allegedly killed by Wuterich [WP report]. One of the photos had not yet been made public, and Wuterich's lawyers have expressed concern that the leak could impair the integrity of court-martial proceedings. Wuterich was one of eight Marines charged [list of charges and specifications; JURIST report] last month in connection with the deaths of 24 Iraqi civilians in Haditha [JURIST report].

According to the Post report, Wuterich shot five unarmed Iraqi civilians [JURIST report] ordered out of a white taxi after his unit took casualties in a roadside bombing in Haditha last November. The deaths prompted two separate military investigations: one conducted by the NCIS aimed at determining whether to prosecute the soldiers involved, and an investigation into decisions made by Marine leadership led by US Army Major General Eldon Bargewell [Wikipedia profile]. Wuterich said last year that his unit followed the rules of engagement [JURIST report] and did not purposefully attack civilians. In August, Wuterich filed a defamation and invasion of privacy lawsuit [complaint, PDF] against Rep. John Murtha (D-PA) [official website], alleging that Murtha falsely accused him of war crimes during press conferences where Murtha discussed [JURIST report] the Haditha killings. AP has more.

 

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