In November, 2005 a squad of US Marines entered the Iraqi town of Haditha after a roadside bomb exploded near their convoy; killing one of their comrades and injuring two more. When they left, 24 men, women, and children (including a man in a wheel chair) had been killed in one of the most notorious massacres of civilians by American forces since Mai Lai during the Viet Nam conflict. Yesterday, the last defendant in the military’s “trial” entered into a plea bargain that could see him serve only three months in prison for his role in the event.
Marine SSGT Frank Wuterich may only serve 3 months for his role in Haditha Massacre
Staff Sgt. Frank Wuterich, 26, who led the Marine squad into Haditha, pleaded guilty to dereliction of duty; a penalty that could see a maximum sentence of three months in prison, two-thirds forfeiture of pay and a rank demotion to private. As part of the deal the court will drop the nine counts of manslaughter and assault which had been originally filed against Wuterich. Of the other seven Marines initially charged in the massacre, six have had charges dropped or dismissed (including some in exchange for testifying at the trial) and one was acquitted. The trial was delayed for years by pre-trial wrangling between the defense and prosecution.
Coming not long after the release of the photos of prisoner abuse by U.S. soldiers at Abu Ghraib prison, the killings in Haditha fueled widespread anger in Iraq and were a deciding factor behind demands by Iraqis that U.S. troops not be given immunity from their court system. The immunity issue was at the heart of the failure of the Obama Administration to extend America’s military presence in Iraq beyond the December 2011 date negotiated by George W. Bush.
Chad (The Left) Shue