A Collaboration with the University of Pittsburgh

Charges dropped against US Marine cooperating in Haditha killings probe

[JURIST] Charges have been dropped against a US Marine in exchange for his testimony in hearings regarding the November 2005 killing of 24 Iraqi civilians in Haditha [USMC timeline; JURIST news archive], the Marine Corps announced Tuesday. Sgt. Sanick Dela Cruz, originally charged with unpremeditated murder and making a false official statement, will receive immunity for testifying against seven other Marines, who are charged [USMC charge sheet; JURIST report] with offenses ranging from murder to dereliction of duty in connection with the deaths.

The Haditha investigation has culminated in the largest US military prosecution involving civilian deaths during the war in Iraq. Iraqi witnesses claim that the Marines, led by Staff Sgt. Frank D. Wuterich [advocacy website], shot into the homes of civilians after a fellow Marine was killed by a roadside bomb. Wuterich, who faces thirteen charges of unpremeditated murder, has maintained that his unit followed the rules of engagement [JURIST report] and did not purposefully attack civilians. An Article 32 hearing [JAG backgrounder] will be held to determine whether there is sufficient evidence to hold a court-martial for the seven. Reuters has more.

About Paper Chase

Paper Chase is JURIST's real-time legal news service, powered by a team of 30 law student reporters and editors led by law professor Bernard Hibbitts at the University of Pittsburgh School of Law. As an educational service, Paper Chase is dedicated to presenting important legal news and materials rapidly, objectively and intelligibly in an accessible format.

© Copyright JURIST Legal News and Research Services, Inc., 2013.