[JURIST] US Marine Capt. Randy Stone testified Tuesday that he did not launch an investigation into the killings of 24 Iraqi civilians at Haditha [USMC timeline; JURIST news archive] because he believed that the killings occurred within the bounds of lawful combat. During Stone's Article 32 hearing [JAG backgrounder], he also said that he never lied about his response to the incident, but rather always worked "to shed light on what I knew and when I knew it."
Earlier this week, Col. John Ewers testified [JURIST report] that Stone did not commit criminal dereliction of duty because he never ignored orders by his commander to conduct an investigation. Last week, 1st Sergeant Albert Espinosa testified that Stone and others ignored his multiple requests [JURIST report] for an investigation into the incident. Stone stands accused [JURIST report] of dereliction of duty and violating a lawful order to investigate the incident; three other officers are charged with similar offenses. The Haditha investigation has culminated in the largest US military prosecution involving civilian deaths during the war in Iraq. Iraqi witnesses claim that Marines led by Staff Sgt. Frank D. Wuterich [advocacy website] shot into the homes of civilians after a fellow Marine was killed by a roadside bomb. Wuterich, who faces 13 charges of unpremeditated murder, has maintained that his unit followed the rules of engagement [JURIST report] and did not purposefully attack civilians. AP has more.