Plea deal sees Haditha Marine trial end early

 

The US Marine who took his men on a blazing, shooting rampage inside homes in the Iraqi town of Haditha in 2005, killing 24 Iraqi civilians and sparking international outrage, yesterday pleaded guilty only to dereliction of duty closing down a court martial where he had been facing far more serious charges of manslaughter.

The deal, which caught observers by surprise, means that Staff Sergeant Frank Wuterich will now face a maximum of three months of confinement. He will also be demoted one military rank and will lose a portion of his pay.

It also closes down the court martial at Camp Pendleton in California and spelt the end of what had been the longest legal proceeding ever seen against members of the US military. All seven other soldiers involved in the case had already either been acquitted before yesterday or had agreed to testify against Wuterich at his court martial.

The Haditha tragedy arguably did as much to damage the reputation of the US military in Iraqi as did revelations of prisoner abuse in Abu Ghraib that had come out shortly before. Memories of what happened in the town still stir fury among many Iraqis and it was one of the main reasons that the government there refused to grant immunity to American soldiers inside Iraq which in turn spurred the final withdrawal of all US troops in December.

The horror of Haditha began after the bombing of a marine convoy that took the life of one of Wuterich's own friends and wounded two others. Wuterich acknowledged in his plea hearing last night that after taking the seven men towards nearby house he ordered them to shoot first and ask questions later. Among the civilians killed were women, children and a man in a wheelchair.

Wuterich voiced regret that he had given the order effectively to shoot indiscriminately. "Honestly, I probably should have said nothing," he told the judge presiding over the court martial, Lt-Col David Jones. "I think we all understood what we were doing so I probably just should have said nothing." He then added: "I shouldn't have done that and it resulted in tragic events."

Prosecutors had told the jury that Wuterich had lost control after seeing the shattered body of his friend after the bomb blast. Speaking for the prosecution some of the other men who took part confirmed that at no time had they come under fire. Even with no return fire they continued their assault on the homes for a shocking 45 minutes.

But the prosecution case suffered an important setback when the former platoon commander of Wuterich testified that after the bombing of the convoy the adjacent homes had been declared "hostile". In that circumstance, he went on, it was not clear that the marines had been in violation of the rules of engagement at that time.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment
A still from the Jurassic World trailer
film

Video: The official full-length trailer for the Jurassic Park sequel has dropped – two days early

Environment
The plant ‘Nepenthes zygon’ was donated to Kew in 2004
environmentNepenthes zygon had been growing for almost a decade and helping to keep down cockroaches
News
This artist impression shows a modern-day Atlantis
news
Arts and Entertainment
booksPhotographer snapped celebrities for 40 years - but it wasn’t all fun and games
News
i100
Sport
Aguero - who single-handedly has kept City's Champions League dreams alive - celebrates his dramatic late winner
footballManchester City 3 Bayern Munich 2: Argentine's late hat-rick sees home side snatch vital victory
News
peopleSinger tells The Independent what life is like in rehab in an exclusive video interview
News
Muhammad Ali pictured in better health in 2006
peopleBut he has enjoyed publicity from his alleged near-death experience
Arts and Entertainment
Tony breaks into Ian Garrett's yacht and makes a shocking discovery
TVReview: Revelations continue to make this drama a tough watch
News
news
News
The assumption that women are not as competent in leadership positions as men are leads to increased stress in the workplace
science... and it's down to gender stereotypes
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Search Account Manager

£22000 - £29000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a fantastic opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: Business Development Executive

£25000 - £32000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company is an acknowledged...

Ashdown Group: Marketing Executive - Central London, Bank

£26000 - £28000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A truly exciting opportunity has ari...

Ampersand Consulting LLP: Systems Developer (C/C++, Ruby/ Perl) - £40k

£40000 per annum + Benefits: Ampersand Consulting LLP: Systems Developer (C/C+...

Day In a Page

Homeless Veterans Christmas Appeal: Drifting and forgotten - turning lives around for ex-soldiers

Homeless Veterans Christmas Appeal: Turning lives around for ex-soldiers

Our partner charities help veterans on the brink – and get them back on their feet
Putin’s far-right ambition: Think-tank reveals how Russian President is wooing – and funding – populist parties across Europe to gain influence in the EU

Putin’s far-right ambition

Think-tank reveals how Russian President is wooing – and funding – populist parties across Europe to gain influence in the EU
Tove Jansson's Moominland: What was the inspiration for Finland's most famous family?

Escape to Moominland

What was the inspiration for Finland's most famous family?
Nightclubbing with Richard Young: The story behind his latest book of celebrity photographs

24-Hour party person

Photographer Richard Young has been snapping celebrities at play for 40 years. As his latest book is released, he reveals that it wasn’t all fun and games
Michelle Obama's school dinners: America’s children have a message for the First Lady

A taste for rebellion

US children have started an online protest against Michelle Obama’s drive for healthy school meals by posting photos of their lunches
Colouring books for adults: How the French are going crazy for Crayolas

Colouring books for adults

How the French are going crazy for Crayolas
Jack Thorne's play 'Hope': What would you do as a local politician faced with an impossible choice of cuts?

What would you do as a local politician faced with an impossible choice of cuts?

Playwright Jack Thorne's latest work 'Hope' poses the question to audiences
Ed Harcourt on Romeo Beckham and life as a court composer at Burberry

Call me Ed Mozart

Paloma Faith, Lana del Ray... Romeo Beckham. Ed Harcourt has proved that he can write for them all. But it took a personal crisis to turn him from indie star to writer-for-hire
10 best stocking fillers for foodies

Festive treats: 10 best stocking fillers for foodies

From boozy milk to wasabi, give the food-lover in your life some extra-special, unusual treats to wake up to on Christmas morning
Phil Hughes head injury: He had one weakness – it has come back to haunt him

Phil Hughes had one weakness – it has come back to haunt him

Prolific opener had world at his feet until Harmison and Flintoff bounced him
'I have an age of attraction that starts as low as four': How do you deal with a paedophile who has never committed a crime?

'I am a paedophile'

Is our approach to sex offenders helping to create more victims?
How bad do you have to be to lose a Home Office contract?

How bad do you have to be to lose a Home Office contract?

Serco given Yarl’s Wood immigration contract despite ‘vast failings’
Green Party on the march in Bristol: From a lost deposit to victory

From a lost deposit to victory

Green Party on the march in Bristol
Putting the grot right into Santa's grotto

Winter blunderlands

Putting the grot into grotto
'It just came to us, why not do it naked?' London's first nude free runner captured in breathtaking images across capital

'It just came to us, why not do it naked?'

London's first nude free runner captured in breathtaking images across capital