Marine's plea deal for Haditha massacre sparks outrage

Wuterich likely to get three months' jail for assaults on Iraqi civilians

Sgt Frank Wuterich
Image Credit: AP
Sgt Frank Wuterich
03 Gulf News

Dubai: Many Iraqi politicians yesterday reacted with absolute shock to reports of a deal under which a US Marine squad leader facing trial over the killing of 24 Iraqi civilians in 2005 will get a few months in prison at the most.

American military prosecutors offered Marine Staff Sgt. Frank Wuterich, 31, a deal according to which the proceedings against him will come to an end.

Wuterich was the leader of a squad that killed Iraqi civilians in Haditha during raids after a Marine was killed and two were injured in a roadside bomb attack.

Wuterich, who was originally accused of unpremeditated murder and was facing life imprisonment, now faces up to three months in confinement, after the deal. He could also lose two-thirds of his pay and be demoted when he is sentenced, the Associated Press reported. Seven other Marines initially charged with the killings were exonerated or had cases against them dropped.

Scathing criticism

The deal is "a sign that the US judiciary is belittling Iraq's blood", said Talal Al Zoubai, an Iraqi lawmaker from Anbar province, of which Haditha is part of.

"The ugly crime [Haditha massacre] contradicts human values and rights, and the principles of democracy which the US brought to Iraq, [but] left us with armies of widows and orphans, armed society and divided it along sectarian lines" Al Zoubai said in a statement to Gulf News.

"There should have been a strong sentence that is appropriate to the size of the tragedy for the relatives of the victims and martyrs' kins," Al Zoubai added.

Confession

Wuterich pleaded guilty on Monday to negligent dereliction of duty for leading the squad in the carnage.

In a report from Camp Pendleton in California, where the trial is taking place, AP said that "in the deal, Wuterich admitted that his orders misled his men to believe they could shoot without hesitation and not follow the rules of engagement that required troops to positively identify their targets before they raided the homes". He told the judge that his error caused "tragic events".

During the trial before a jury of combat Marines who served in Iraq, prosecutors argued Wuterich lost control after seeing his friend blown apart by the bomb and led his men on the rampage during which they stormed two nearby homes, blasting their way in with gunfire and grenades. Among the dead was a man in a wheelchair.

"This is genocide, and not just a murder," said Ra'ed Al Dahlaki, a member of the legal committee of the Iraqi parliament. "The culprit should receive severe punishment for the sake of justice for Arab blood and Iraqi blood." Reaching a deal with Wuterich is akin to "debasing Muslim and Iraqi blood," he told Gulf News.

However, many of the Marines involved in the killings testified that they "don't believe to this day that they did anything wrong because they feared insurgents were hiding inside".

The massacre, which is often described as one the major events in the War in Iraq, has further tarnished America's reputation after it reached abysmal levels with the release of photos of prisoner abuse at Baghdad's Abu Gharib prison by US soldiers.

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  • Mahnaaz

    25-Jan-2012 13:16

    So if kasab also pleads guilty, he should also be given only 3 months and let go? Crimes against humanity should not be dependent on whether it was done in civilian clothes or in uniform. Here he made a deal, if he was so guilty he should have confessed without any deal, that would show repentence. Confession is no good without repentence. There are many young men in guantonamo tortured and sometimes made to accept crimes they haven't done they dont get punishments as lenient as this. Such double standards make us worry that the hatered that most of us are trying to eliminate between people will get stronger. Atrocities of any nature on any race should never be tolerated and should be punishable by law.

  • ali

    25-Jan-2012 10:14

    This shows the double standard's of US. It is a shocking decision. The marine should be tried in Iraq and not in US, as he had commited a crime in Iraq. Should be hanged.

  • K. Ragavan

    25-Jan-2012 10:10

    This is with reference to your article, Plea deal for Haditha massacre sparks out rage, was good to read. In 2005, the 24 civilians massacred was done by a US Marine in Iraq was given 3 months in prosecution, was a welcoming one. This was due to the Marine Sargeant's guilty, and his action. Even after Seven years, he has admitted, was to be applauded.K.RagavanChennaiIndia

Latest Comment

So if kasab also pleads guilty, he should also be given only 3 months and let go? Crimes against humanity should not be dependent on whether it was done in civilian clothes or in uniform. Here he made a deal, if he was so guilty he should have confessed without any deal, that would show repentence. Confession is no good without repentence. There are many young men in guantonamo tortured and sometimes made to accept crimes they haven't done they dont get punishments as lenient as this. Such double standards make us worry that the hatered that most of us are trying to eliminate between people will get stronger. Atrocities of any nature on any race should never be tolerated and should be punishable by law.

Mahnaaz

25 January 2012 13:39jump to comments