Iraq to take legal action over Haditha killings

[JURIST] A media adviser to Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki [official website, in Arabic; JURIST news archive] said Thursday that the government will take legal action on behalf of the victims of the November 2005 Haditha killings [JURIST news archive], in which 24 Iraqi civilians were killed. Government spokesman Ali al-Moussawi expressed displeasure [Reuters report] with the outcome of the investigation and prosecutions in the US military court. On Tuesday, US Staff Sgt. Frank Wuterich [advocacy website] pleaded guilty [JURIST report] to the charge of negligent dereliction of duty, making him the only marine convicted of misconduct related to the killings. Eight marines were originally charged in relation to the killings, but in six cases charges were dismissed and one marine was acquitted. Earlier this week, many Iraqis were outraged [Reuters report] by the lenient deal given to Wuterich, whose conviction carries a maximum sentence of three months in jail. Al-Moussawi did not specify what legal action the Iraqi government might take.

Wuterich's guilty plea marks the end of the final court-martial resulting from a five-year investigation into the 2005 Haditha killings. Wuterich was denied a motion to dismiss [JURIST report] his charges in 2010. His trial was postponed in 2008 [JURIST report] after a judge decided to throw out a subpoena for unaired footage of a CBS interview with Wuterich that prosecutors believed could have proven his guilt. Charges against Lt. Colonel Jeffrey Chessani [JURIST news archive] were dropped [JURIST report] in June 2008, the same month 1st Lt. Andrew Grayson [JURIST news archive] was acquitted [JURIST report] of all charges against him relating to the incident. In August 2007, charges against Lance Cpl. Justin Sharratt and Capt. Randy W. Stone were dismissed [JURIST report]. In 2007, an official report on the Haditha incident by US Army Major General Eldon Bargewell showed that there was "serious misconduct" [JURIST report] at all levels of the chain of command.

 

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