US marine convicted over Haditha killings

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The US marine corps has discharged the lone marine convicted in the 2005 killings of unarmed Iraqi civilians in the town of Haditha, a spokesman said Tuesday. Former sergeant Frank Wuterich ended his service on Friday, marine corps spokesman Joseph Kloppel said. Wuterich’s attorney, Neal Puckett, said in an email to the Associated Press that the corps gave him a general discharge under honorable conditions — one step below an honorable discharge. Wuterich had his rank reduced to private as part of a deal that abruptly ended his manslaughter court martial last month at Camp Pendleton and spared him imprisonment. The 31-year-old father of two pleaded guilty to negligent dereliction of duty as the leader of the squad that killed 24 Iraqis after a roadside bomb exploded in the town, killing a fellow marine and wounding two other marines. After reaching his plea deal, Wuterich apologised for the loss of life, but has said his squad did not behave badly or dishonorably. He also has defended his order to raid homes in Haditha because he believed his squad was under attack. He acknowledged he instructed his men to “shoot first, ask questions later.” His case ended a six-year prosecution that failed to win any manslaughter convictions in one of the worst attacks on Iraqi civilians by US troops during nine years of war. Eight marines were initially charged in the case. One was acquitted and six others had their cases dropped. The outcome of the case sparked outrage in Iraq, and the government there has said it will take legal action to ensure justice for the families of the victims.