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General Drops All Charges Against Two Marines

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Aired 4/19/09

Marine Lieutenant General James Mattis has dismissed all charges against two Marines: one accused of murder, and the other of dereliction of duty, in the killing of Iraqi civilians in Haditha in 2005. KPBS reporter Alison St John has the story.

The two men will go free without having to face a court-martial. Lieutenant Colonel Justin Sharratt was accused of killing 3 Iraq brothers, among 24 civilians killed by Marines after a roadside bomb blew up a humvee in their convoy.

In his statement dismissing the charges, General Mattis wrote:"The experience of combat is difficult to understand intellectually and very difficult to appreciate emotionally.” He based his decision on the recommendation of a hearing officer, who wrote, "The murder charges were based on unreliable witness accounts, poor forensic evidence and questionable legal theories."

General Mattis has also declared Captain Randy Stone innocent of charges he failed to initiate a thorough investigation of the incident.

The decisions are the first in a series of hearings to determine if seven Marines should be court-martialed for their role in the Haditha killings

Alison St John, KPBS News.

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