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Court-martial begins for US Marine accused in Haditha killings case

[JURIST] The court-martial of a US Marine intelligence officer charged in connection with the November 2005 killings of 24 Iraqi civilians in Haditha [USMC timeline; JURIST news archive] began Thursday at Camp Pendleton, California [official website]. US Marine Corps 1st Lt. Andrew Grayson [defense website; JURIST news archive] is charged with multiple violations of the Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ) [text], including making a false official statement, obstructing justice, and dereliction of duty. AP has more.

A defense lawyer for Grayson said in September 2007 that Grayson rejected a plea offer [JURIST report] requiring him to admit to an attempted cover-up of the killings in exchange for prosecutors dropping all charges. He is accused of allegedly ordering a subordinate to delete photographic evidence [JURIST report] taken hours after the killings to keep it out of a report being prepared for top-ranking officers and a journalist. Eight Marines were initially charged in connection with the Haditha incident, though charges against five of them have since been dropped. In April, the court-martial of Staff Sgt. Frank Wuterich [advocacy website], leader of the squad implicated in the killings, was postponed until June [JURIST report].

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