Middle East News
Marine reaches plea deal in Haditha killings case
Jan 24, 2012, 1:32 GMT
Los Angeles - A US Marine accused of killing 24 locals in a rampage in the Iraqi town of Haditha in 2005 has reached a plea deal to settle his case, admitting just a single count of negligent dereliction of duty, the Los Angeles Times reported Monday.
Staff Sergeant Frank Wuterich, 31, had been accused of manslaughter, assault and dereliction of duty for allegedly leading his men on a revenge rampage against innocent Iraqis after a roadside bomb had killed one member of his squad.
Three women and seven children were killed in the bloody assault.
A local human rights activist went public with video footage of the aftermath.
Wuterich was the last of eight Marines accused of perpetrating the slaughter to settle his case. Six of the other accused had their cases dropped and one officer was acquitted in a court martial.
Wuterich faces a maximum sentence of three months in military prison.
The report said that prosecutors agreed to the plea deal after their own witnesses undermined their case by testifying that Wuterich's orders to clear houses near the site of the blast had been in line with Marine protocol of throwing grenades into the buildings and firing with their assault rifles.
They had earlier tried to portray Wuterich as losing control after his friend was killed by the roadside bomb. The defence had argued that Wuterich had believed that insurgents were present in the buildings and that his actions in the heat of the moment were reasonable.
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