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US Marines squad leader shot unarmed Iraqi civilians at Haditha after attack: NCIS

[JURIST] US Marines Staff Sgt. Frank D. Wuterich shot five unarmed Iraqi civilians ordered out of a white taxi after his unit took casualties in a roadside bombing in Haditha last November, according to a Naval Criminal Investigative Service (NCIS) [official website] report obtained by the Washington Post. The Post reported Saturday that Iraqi eyewitnesses saw Marines order four students and the taxi's driver out of the vehicle and then Wuterich shoot them one by one from about 10 feet away. Wuterich was one of eight Marines charged [list of charges and specifications; JURIST report] last month in connection with the deaths of 24 Iraqi civilians in Haditha. AP has more.

The deaths prompted two separate military investigations: one conducted by the NCIS aimed at determining whether to prosecute the soldiers involved, and an investigation into decisions made by Marine leadership led by US Army Major General Eldon Bargewell [Wikipedia profile]. Wuterich said last year that his unit followed the rules of engagement [JURIST report] and did not purposefully attack civilians. In August, Wuterich filed a defamation and invasion of privacy lawsuit [complaint, PDF] against Rep. John Murtha (D-PA) [official website], alleging that Murtha falsely accused him of war crimes during press conferences where Murtha discussed [JURIST report] the Haditha killings.

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