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Marines Testify in Haditha Case.

Marines Testify in Haditha Case.Testimonials for the Article 32 investigation into the November 2005 events in Haditha, Iraq unveiled grave degradations and dereliction of duty. Sgt. Sanick P. Dela Cruz testified that he witnessed Staff Sgt. Frank Wuterich kill five Iraqi's who were bound and detained following an IED encounter by the Marines of Kilo Company. Dela Cruz stated that he sprayed the bodies of the Iraqi's with automatic gunfire following Wuterich's initial shooting and urinated on the head of one of the Iraqi's. Dela Cruz later stated that Wuterich ordered him to lie about the event, telling him to say the Iraqi's had tried to escape.

First Sgt. Albert Espinosa, who maintained casualty reports for Kilo Company, told the military court that he was not satisfied with the answers he received from his commanding officers regarding the November 19th, 2005 events. Espinosa testified that he was increasingly frustrated by the indifference regarding the deaths of 24 Iraqi civilians. He stated he had repeatedly inquired to his commanding officers that an investigation was warranted, but was told "don't worry about it."

On November 19th, 2005, a convoy of Marines from Kilo Company was on patrol in Haditha. An IED was detonated under a humvee, killing Lance Corporal Miguel Terrazas ("TJ") and wounding two others. According to Iraqi witnesses, Marines entered a house near the area and fired on its residents, killing seven. Marines then entered a second home and detonated a grenade, killing eight of its residents, including a 2 year old boy. Witness accounts then detail the Marines entering a third home, killing four men inside a small closet. According to the official account from the US Marines, the entire event lasted five hours with at least 23 dead. 15 were classified as non-combatants. The Marines found two AK-47's in the five hour raid.

Espinosa testified the log books from November 19th were missing. The preliminary hearing regards charges against Marine lawyer, Capt. Randy Stone, for dereliction of duty for failure to investigate the events.

An Article 32 investigation is the military equivalent of the constitutional right to grand jury indictment. Its intent is to provide pre-trail examination of the facts and evidence surrounding the allegations to determine eligibility to refer the case to a general court-martial, the most serious level of courts-martial. The Naval Criminal Investigative Service has been conducting a criminal investigation to determine if the Marines of Kilo Company had violated the laws of war. Sgt. Dela Cruz was granted immunity from murder charges in exchange for his testimony.

The US government paid surviving family members $2,500 for each of the 15 non-combatants.


Narrative from Time



Daniel Graeber

Daniel Graeber is a writer for United Press International covering Iraq, Afghanistan and the broader Levant. He has published works on international and constitutional law pertaining to US terrorism cases and on child soldiers. His first major work, entitled The United States and Israel: The Implications of Alignment, is featured in the text, Strategic Interests in the Middle East: Opposition or Support for US Foreign Policy. He holds a MA in Diplomacy and International Conflict Management from Norwich University, where his focus was international relations theory, international law, and the role of non-state actors.

Areas of Focus:International law; Middle East; Government and Politics; non-state actors