No jail for marine? Haditha massacre verdict stuns Iraqis.
Staff Sgt. Frank Wuterich will receive only a demotion to the rank of private for involvement in the 2005 killings of 24 Iraqi civilians in Haditha.
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A United States military court yesterday determined that the US Marine Corps sergeant who pled guilty to involvement in killing Iraqi civilians in a notorious 2005 massacre will serve no jail time, sparking outrage in Iraq.
In 2005, a group of Marines killed 24 unarmed men, women, and children in Haditha, a town of 85,000 people located west of Baghdad, after a roadside bomb killed a member of their squad, reports the Washington Post. Seven soldiers, plus squad leader Wuterich, were initially charged by a US military court, but one was acquitted and charges against the six others were dropped.
Wuterich’s initial charges of involuntary manslaughter and aggravated assault were dismissed in return for his guilty plea. He could have faced a maximum of three months in prison, but in the end he received only a demotion and a pay cut.
Haditha was a hotbed for insurgent and militant activity in 2005, and in the months leading up to the Nov. 19 incident by US forces, at least 20 Marines were killed. A local journalist released a video of the attack’s aftermath that documented walls pocked with bullet holes and bodies of women and children in a morgue, reports Time Magazine. The attack is considered one of the war’s defining moments, and provided more fodder for already strong anti-American sentiments in the region.
Wuterich maintains his squad did not behave dishonorably, reports the Washington Post.