On Monday, a Marine accused of killing unarmed Iraqi women and children pleaded guilty to dereliction of duty in the controversial Haditha case.
Reaching a deal that will mean a maximum of three months confinement and an end to the largest and longest-running criminal case against U.S. troops stemming from the Iraq War, the plea deal also allowed seven other squad members to walk from the charges.
The assault, lead by U.S. Marine Staff Sergeant Frank Wuterich, left 24 Iraqi civilians dead. The Sergeant faces up to three months confinement, loss of pay, and demotion to private for leading the infamous 2005 Haditha massacre. Nine counts of manslaughter were dropped in his plea agreement.
“No one denies that the events … were tragic, most of all Frank Wuterich,” his defense attorney said at Camp Pendleton. “But the fact of the matter is that he has now been totally exonerated of the homicide charges.”
The issue at hand was whether or not Wuterich should have led the strike after a roadside bomb detonated near a convoy, killing one Marine and injuring two others. Prosecutors argued that the sight of his fallen comrades sent Wuterich into a rage, which lead to the eventual assault. Retorting, Wuterich’s former platoon commander testified that the assault fit rules of combat at that time.
With today’s ruling, the case is closed, but the conditions surrounding the assault still angers Iraqis, and serves as the main reason they refused to give U.S. troops immunity from Iraqi courts.
What say you, dear reader? Is this justice?