LAWFUEL – The Law Newswire – Two Marines involved in an alleged massacre of 24 civilians in Iraq had charges against them dropped yesterday.
Reuters report that a U.S. Marine general dropped all charges on Thursday against two Marines in the shooting deaths of 24 civilians in Haditha, scene of what Iraqi witnesses said was a massacre by American troops.
The dismissal of charges means neither Lance Cpl. Justin Sharratt nor Capt. Randy Stone will face a court-martial in connection with the events at Haditha, which have brought international condemnation of U.S. troops.
Five Marines still face charges in the November 19, 2005, shooting of two dozen unarmed men, women and children in Haditha, which prosecutors say came in retaliation for the death of a beloved comrade, Lance Cpl. Miguel Terrazas, who was cut in half by a roadside bomb.
Sharratt, 22, had been charged with three counts of premeditated murder and Stone, 35, with dereliction of duty for failing to properly report the civilian deaths.
Defense attorneys conceded civilians were killed at Haditha but said they died during chaotic fighting with insurgents after the roadside blast.
In dismissing the charges against Sharratt and Stone after what he said was an exhaustive review, Lt. Gen. James Mattis cited the difficult battle conditions and a “shadowy enemy” whose forces hid among civilians.
“With the dismissal of these charges Lance Cpl. Sharratt may conclude that he did his best to live up to the standards, followed by U.S. fighting men throughout our many wars, in the face of life or death decisions made in a matter of seconds in combat,” Mattis said.