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US Marines order Haditha defendant to testify against squad leader

[JURIST] The US Marine Corps has ordered Lance Cpl. Stephen Tatum [advocacy profile] to testify against Staff Sgt. Frank Wuterich [advocacy website] about the killing of 24 Iraqi civilians at Haditha [USMC timeline; JURIST news archive] in November 2005, according to Wednesday media reports. Both men currently face court-martial for their alleged roles in the incident. Tatum's lawyer said that Tatum has received an immunity order barring his testimony against Wuterich from being used against him at his own trial, but that the order was not part of a deal with the government and that Tatum still planned to plead not guilty to the charges against him. Wuterich's court-martial is scheduled to begin on March 3, while Tatum's court-martial is set for March 28. Wuterich is the leader of the squad implicated in the killings.

In January, 1st Lt. Andrew Grayson [defense website] was arraigned on charges [JURIST reports] of making false official statements and obstruction of justice in connection to the killings at Haditha. Eight marines were initially charged in connection to the Haditha incident, though charges have since been dropped against four. Wuterich was initially charged with unpremeditated murder, but the investigating officer in Wuterich's case recommended [JURIST report] last year that the more serious charge be dropped. An official report on the Haditha incident by US Army Major General Eldon Bargewell found "serious misconduct" [JURIST report] on all levels of the US Marine Corps chain of command. The North County Times has more.

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