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Marine Charged in Killing of Iraqi Civilians


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Marines from Camp Pendleton will face charges in connection with the killing of 24 civilians in Haditha, Iraq, last November. Joanne Faryon has the details.

Today the lawyer representing one of the Marines at the center of the case confirmed his client was told he will be officially charged tomorrow.

Staff sergeant Frank Wuterich, a 26-year-old father of two, was on his first tour of duty in Iraq last November when he led his squad on a house to house search. 24 civilians were killed.

Wuterich’s lawyer says his client’s defense will outline the Marines’ training and military’s rules of engagement.

Neal Puckett, attorney for Staff Sgt. Frank Wuterich : What’s going to be at issue here are the tactics, the defensive tactics, that were used that day and whether or not they were authorized under the umbrella of the rules of engagement, things like positive identification, whether or not that was required before shooting or not.

Photos taken after the shootings raised questions about the version of events that took place that day, and prompted an investigation into whether commanders were negligent in investigating the deaths.

Puckett: We believe much of this evidence on which these charges were laid are conjured up for political and or financial gain.

Joanne Faryon : Conjured up? Weren’t there pictures of the aftermath?

Puckett : There apparently are photos and if you took a picture after any combat engagement there would be dead people. That’s what there were that day and this is an unfortunate situation where after protecting themselves it turned out civilians were at the wrong place at the wrong time. That’s what’s happening throughout Iraq.

The Marine Corps will hold a news conference tomorrow to officially announce charges. It’s expected at least five Marines will be charged. There’s speculation those charges could range anywhere from murder to negligent homicide.

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