Monday, October 01, 2007

Different Marines...More Charges...

I wonder if we're going to start charging boxers with assault and battery or firefighters with breaking and entering...?

"...Nearly three years after the battle of Fallujah earned Marines more Navy Cross medals for heroism than any other action in Iraq, prosecutors are investigating whether members of one squad killed a group of captured insurgents there.

However, getting charges to stick could prove difficult as prosecutors try to assemble concrete evidence from a battle that reduced much of the city to rubble and caused extensive casualties. The identities of the victims are unknown.

Several Marines from Camp Pendleton are under investigation and the former squad leader, now a civilian, has been charged in federal court with two counts of voluntary manslaughter.

About 130 Marines were killed during the 53-day battle, more than were 1,000 wounded and some 1,000 insurgents were killed, said a Marine Corps spokesman, Lt. Col. Chris Hughes. There is no tally of civilian deaths.

"It's a little bit difficult to take a firefight three years after the fight and try to piece together whether or not a crime took place," said Doug Applegate, an attorney for Jose Nazario Jr., the former squad leader. "No crime scene could have been preserved, there's no physical evidence or DNA."

Nazario, 27, who has left the Marine Corps, pleaded not guilty earlier this month in federal court in Riverside.

Recent cases against Marines over actions in Iraq highlight the challenges prosecutors face. Charges against eight Marines in the killing of an Iraqi man last year in Hamdania resulted in only one murder conviction, despite confessions and testimony from several of the defendants. And prosecutors have yet to score any convictions against Marines accused in the killings of 24 civilians in Haditha.

Observers say it will be even tougher to prosecute the members of a squad from Kilo Company, 3rd Battalion, 1st Marines in the Fallujah case..." (Read the whole story)

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