Captain To Face Charges In Marines’ Killings Of Iraqis, Lawyer Says

December 20th, 2006  
Team Infidel

Topic: Captain To Face Charges In Marines’ Killings Of Iraqis, Lawyer Says

New York Times
December 20, 2006
Pg. 16

By Paul Von Zielbauer
WASHINGTON, Dec. 19 — An officer responsible for the marines who killed two dozen Iraqis, including several women and children, in the village of Haditha last year will be charged Thursday with dereliction of duty or a similar crime, his lawyer said Tuesday.
The officer, Capt. Lucas McConnell, was not directly involved in the close-range killings of the 24 villagers, but was told by a superior officer at Camp Pendleton, Calif., to present himself to face charges on Thursday, said his lawyer, Kevin B. McDermott.
Captain McConnell, who led Company K, Third Battalion, First Marine Regiment in Haditha, is the first marine — and the only officer — to confirm publicly that he will be charged in connection with either the killings or how the Marine Corps handed the episode.
Captain McConnell was relieved of his command this year, after returning to Camp Pendleton. Charges against him would raise the likelihood that charges would also be brought this week against at least five marines under his command, all enlisted men in Company K’s third platoon who Marine officials and defense lawyers say were directly responsible for the killings.
Mr. McDermott said a senior Marine official had told him that a second officer, with a Marine intelligence unit that initially investigated and photographed the killings, might also be charged.
A Marine Corps spokesman at Camp Pendleton declined to comment on any charges or when they might be announced, but said the Marines planned to set a date on Wednesday.
Mr. McDermott, in an interview on Tuesday, said he was baffled about why the Marines would charge Captain McConnell with dereliction of duty, a crime that suggests a failure to uphold military standards of conduct. Captain McConnell reported the Haditha killings to his superiors two days after the episode, Mr. McDermott said.
Mr. McDermott suggested that Marine prosecutors would argue that Captain McConnell had provided his men with insufficient training on the rules of engagement, which dictate when lethal force can be used.

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