Frank Wuterich gets off with a slap on the wrist for leading one of the most brutal and merciless slaughters carried out by US soldiers on record
January 26, 2012
The last U.S. Marine facing charges stemming from the November 19, 2005, Haditha massacre will lose some stripes, but not serve any time in jail after pleading guilty.
Staff Sergeant Frank Wuterich entered a guilty plea on one count of dereliction of duty, as part of a deal worked out between his defense lawyers and military prosecutors. He will be busted down to private, and remains on active duty.
At his sentencing Wuterich, who gave the order to shoot on sight, apologized to the Iraqi survivors for what he and his men did—killing 24 civilians, including three women, seven children and a 76-year-old man in a wheelchair, after a Marine died in a roadside bombing. The incident is considered the worst case of non-bomb-related killings of Iraqi civilians by Americans.
Many Iraqis were beside themselves after learning Wuterich would not go to jail.
“The Americans killed children who were hiding inside the cupboards or under the beds,” Rafid Abdul Majeed Hadithi, a Haditha teacher who says he witnessed the attack, told the Los Angeles Times. “Was this Marine charged with dereliction of duty because he didn’t kill more? Is Iraqi blood so cheap?”
Iraqi photographer Thair Thabit Hadithi told the Times, “The crime changed Iraqis’ opinions toward the Americans. We had the idea that they respected human rights and respected humanity. But it seems they did not.”