Haditha Court-Martial – Part I

In 2005, eight Marines were criminally charged by the Marine Corps in the deaths of 24 Iraqis in the village of Haditha. Despite the evidence against the Marines, the charges against six were later dropped and only one of them was found to be not guilty. On January 9th, prosecutors at Camp Pendleton will begin court-martial proceedings.

Opening arguments are set in the court-martial of Staff Sgt. Frank Wuterich. The senior enlisted Marine on the scene during the incident, Wuterich was the squad leader when a roadside bomb killed one and injured two Americans. In response, Marines began hunting for the bombers, resulting in the incident in question.

Expected to take at least a month, witnesses at the court-martial will be Marines from Wuterich’s battalion. Understandably, this creates something of a conflict of interest. As Wuterich’s fellow Marines will likely be inclined to support their comrade and be sympathetic to the harsh demands of war, the prosecution faces unique challenges. “I can’t think of a single witness that I would say is desirous of being helpful to the United States” in the prosecution, Major Nicholas Gannon told the judge.

William E. Cassara- Military Law Attorney

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