8 US marines charged with murder of 24 unarmed civilians in Iraq
Source: CCTV.com | 12-22-2006 19:09Special Report: Iraq in Transition
The U.S. military has charged four marines with the murder of 24 unarmed civilians in Haditha, Iraq. And an additional four marines have been charged with obstructing justice.
The murder of the Iraqi civilians, which took place in November 2005, is one of the most serious allegations of misconduct faced by U.S. troops in Iraq.
Two investigations were launched in Haditha. One focusing on the shooting and the other to look into whether officers attempted to falsify reports on the incident.
In announcing the charges of unpremeditated murder, US Marine Colonel Stewart Navarre said a press release issued the day after the killings wrongly reported the real number of casualties and what really happened during the incident. "These charges include murder, dereliction of duty, false official statement and obstruction of justice." Stewart Navarre said.
Defense lawyers say the defendants were engaged in a furious battle in Haditha after a bomb exploded and the civilians may have been killed during the chaos.
The defendants are entitled to a further hearing in which a military judge would decide if there is enough evidence to convene a court-martial. This has not yet been set.