Haditha victims’ kin outraged as Marines go free


Leila Fadel
McClatchy Newspapers
June 22, 2008

Editor’s note: As Butler Shaffer posts on the LRC blog, “The acquittal of Marines for having killed 24 Iraqi civilians should come as no surprise. Do the Crips ever convict their fellow gang members for drive-by shootings that kill innocents?”

HADITHA, Iraq — Khadija Hassan still shrouds her body in black, nearly three years after the deaths of her four sons. They were killed on Nov. 19, 2005, along with 20 other people in the deadliest documented case of U.S. troops killing civilians since the Vietnam War.

Eight Marines were charged in the case, but in the intervening years, criminal charges have been dismissed against six. A seventh Marine was acquitted. The residents of Haditha, after being told they could depend on U.S. justice, feel betrayed.

“We put our hopes in the law and in the courts and one after another they are found innocent,” said Yousef Aid Ahmed, the lone surviving brother in the family. “This is an organized crime.”

No one disputes that Marines killed 24 men, women and children in this town in four separate shootings that morning. Relatives said the attack was a massacre of innocent civilians that followed a roadside bomb that killed one Marine and injured two. Marines say they came under fire following the bomb.

Nonetheless, military prosecutors filed charges that ranged from murder to covering up a crime. Three Marines were relieved of their duties then, and U.S. Rep. John Murtha, a former Marine, famously called the incident “murder” on television.

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