Thursday, January 03, 2008

Haditha Court-Martial Will Make No One Happy

By sheer coincidence, the Marine Corps announced on Monday that Staff Sgt Frank Wuterich will face a general court-martial for the deaths of Iraqi civilians in Haditha. However, as reported by the NY Times (here), Wuterich will only face voluntary manslaughter charges and not more serious charges of murder, in addition to lesser charges of aggravated assault, reckless endangerment, dereliction of duty and obstruction of justice. As we previously reported, the Art. 32 Officer recommended dismissal of the murder charges. However, the new CA, Lt. Gen. Samuel Helland, replacing the now famous Gen. Mattis, decided against referral of unpremeditated murder.

The compromise referral may be at the advice of his trial counsel, believing they can only win on voluntary manslaughter. However, the referral will do little to rebuff the critics of courts-martial's involving foreign civilian deaths and war crimes, as discussed earlier this week. We'll see how the trial plays out in front of members---which I am guessing the Staff Sgt. will elect to hear his case.

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