Thursday, December 21, 2006

U.S. military charges 8 Marines in Haditha deaths

CAMP PENDLETON, Calif. - Eight Marines were charged Thursday in the massacre of 24 Iraqi civilians in the town of Haditha last year.

At least two were charged with murder. Some of those charged were officers who were not there but were accused of failures in investigating and reporting the deaths.

A squad leader was charged with murdering 12 people and ordering other Marines to murder six people in the hours after a roadside bomb killed one Marine and injured two others.

The squad leader, Staff Sgt. Frank Wuterich, 26, was charged with unpremeditated murder of 18 Iraqi civilians, including six people inside a house members of his squad cleared with deadly force. Wuterich also was charged with one count each of making a false official statement and soliciting another sergeant to make false official statements.

The highest ranking defendant, Lt. Col. Jeffrey Chessani, was accused of failing to obey an order or regulation, encompassing dereliction of duty.

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