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Charges dismissed against two US Marines in Haditha Iraqi civilian killings

[JURIST] US Marine Corps Lt. Gen. James Mattis [official profile] has dismissed all charges against Lance Cpl. Justine I. Sharratt and Capt. Randy W. Stone for their alleged roles in the killing and suspected cover-up of the death of 24 Iraqi civilians [JURIST report] at Haditha [USMC timeline; JURIST news archive] in November 2005. Mattis dismissed all charges against Sharratt [press release] Wednesday, agreeing with the investigating officer's recommendations [JURIST report; IO report, PDF] that the evidence does not support a court-martial against Sharratt because witness testimony was unreliable and the forensic evidence tended to support Sharratt's version of the events. On Thursday, Mattis dismissed all charges against Stone [press release], a Marine lawyer accused of failing to launch a probe into the killings, finding that "any error of omission or commission" did not warrant action under the Uniform Code of Military Justice [text].

In June, a military investigator recommended that Stone not face court-martial [JURIST report], saying that the matter should be handled administratively. Five Marines are still facing allegations [list of charges] of wrongdoing, including the commander of the 3rd Battalion, 1st Marines, Lt. Col Jeffrey R. Chessani [JURIST news archive]. An investigating officer has recommended Chessani face a court-martial [JURIST report] for dereliction of duty and violation of a lawful order. AP has more.

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