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US Marine escapes jail term over killing of 24 Iraqi civilians

Washington, Wed, 25 Jan 2012 ANI

Washington, Jan 24 (ANI): A US Marine, who was accused of killing of 24 Iraqi civilians in the town of Haditha in 2005, will serve no time behind bars, a military judge has ruled.


Marine Staff Sgt. Frank Wuterich, 31, was accused of being the ringleader in a series of shootings and grenade attacks on November 19, 2005 that left two dozen civilians dead in the town west of Baghdad.


The announcement by Lt. Col. David Jones came after Wuterich took responsibility during his sentencing hearing at Camp Pendleton for the killings and expressed remorse to the victims' families.


According to the Los Angeles Times, Jones said he had planned to recommend 90 days in the brig, the maximum as requested by the prosecution, but that the plea bargain approved by Lt. Gen. Thomas Waldhauser had called for no jail time.


Wuterich was the last of eight Marines charged in the Haditha killings to have his case resolved.


Six had the charges against them dropped, and one Marine was acquitted.


According the report, the lack of trial convictions in the Haditha case is likely to further inflame anti-US sentiment in Iraq, as well as fuel criticism by some legal analysts of the 6-year-long investigation and prosecution.


Meanwhile, a Marine Corps spokesman refused to offer any public explanation over the decision to accept the plea bargain and stipulate that Wuterich receive no jail time. (ANI)


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