Wednesday, November 15, 2006
An Encinitas Marine says he is sorry for his role in killing an unarmed Iraqi man in the town of Hamdania. Private First Class John Jodka awaits sentencing after pleading guilty to aggravated assault and conspiracy to obstruct justice. KPBS Radio’s Andrew Phelps reports from Camp Pendleton.
Jodka offered three apologies – first to the family of the victim, Hashim Ibrahim Awad. Then, Jodka apologized to his own family, who defended the Marine since he was first charged with kidnapping and murder. Jodka’s final apology was to the Marine Corps. He told the judge, “I’m not a bad Marine. I don’t hurt people for fun.” Jodka admitted to firing a machine gun at Awad under orders. He said he knows those orders were illegal.
Defense attorneys described the 20-year-old man as an impressionable infantryman. Jodka was the youngest and lowest-ranking Marine in his squad. The defense also says Jodka was not well-trained for what he would encounter in Iraq. Prosecutors say Jodka knew he was breaking the rules. Attorneys showed handheld video the Marines made after the killing. The tape shows the men chanting slurs about Arabs and joking about more killings. For KPBS, I’m Andrew Phelps in Camp Pendleton.