US Marine cleared of all charges in Haditha civilian killings case

[JURIST] A court-martial panel Wednesday acquitted [press release] a US Marine intelligence officer charged in connection with the November 2005 killings of 24 Iraqi civilians in Haditha [USMC timeline; JURIST news archive]. US Marine Corps 1st Lt. Andrew Grayson [defense website; JURIST news archive] had been charged [text] with multiple violations of the Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ) [text], including making a false official statement, obstructing justice, and dereliction of duty. Grayson rejected a plea offer [JURIST report] in September 2007 requiring him to admit to an attempted cover-up of the killings in exchange for prosecutors dropping all charges. He was accused of allegedly ordering a subordinate to delete photographic evidence [JURIST report] taken hours after the killings to keep it out of a report being prepared for top-ranking officers and a journalist. A judge dismissed [JURIST report] the obstruction charge Tuesday, and the panel cleared him of all remaining charges Wednesday. If convicted, Grayson could have faced more than 20 years in prison, dismissal from the military and forfeiture of all pay. AFP has more.

Eight Marines were initially charged in connection with the Haditha incident, though the cases against six of them have since been dropped or resolved through acquittal. The court-martial of Staff Sgt. Frank Wuterich [defense website; JURIST news archive], leader of the squad implicated in the killings, was postponed indefinitely [JURIST report] in March, while proceedings in the case of Lt. Col. Jeffrey R. Chessani [JURIST news archive] were postponed [JURIST report] until later this month so that a judge could consider whether several military officials were under "undue command influence" to charge the Marine.



 

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