US Marine officer in Haditha, Iraq says he did not consider deaths unusual

August 19th, 2006  
Team Infidel

Topic: US Marine officer in Haditha, Iraq says he did not consider deaths unusual

Media: The Associated Press
Byline: n/a
Date: 19 August 2006

WASHINGTON - The Marine officer in charge of troops suspected of killing 24
Iraqi men, women and children told investigators he did not initiate an
inquiry into the carnage because he did not consider the deaths unusual, The
Washington Post reported Saturday.

In a sworn statement given to military investigators in March, Lt. Col.
Jeffrey R. Chessani said: "I thought it was very sad, very unfortunate, but
at the time, I did not suspect any wrongdoing from my Marines." Chessani was
commander of the 3rd Battalion of the 1st Marines.

"I did not have any reason to believe that this was anything other than
combat action," he added.

The Post said it obtained a copy of Chessani's statement.

Reached by telephone late Friday, Marine Lt. Col. Sean Gibson, a spokesman
on the Haditha case, said he had not seen the report and could not comment.

The Marine Corps has been investigating whether its troops deliberately
killed the Iraqis in Haditha. The Marines also are looking into whether
efforts were made to cover up the incident. Initially, the Marine Corps
reported that 15 Iraqis had died in a roadside bombing or were caught in
crossfire between Marines and insurgents. Survivors of the encounter and
human rights groups, however, claimed that 24 Iraqi civilians had been
deliberately shot to death by Marines.

The New York Times reported Thursday that military investigators have
concluded that the Marines destroyed or withheld evidence.

No charges have been brought in the Haditha killings, and the official
results of the Marine investigation have not been released. Chessani, who
has been relieved of his duties, has not spoken publicly about the incident.

According to the Post, Chessani's statement was provided by a source
"sympathetic" to the Marines involved in the case. The incident occurred in
a dangerous area where insurgent attacks were common.

Because attacks were so common, Chessani told investigators he saw the
incident as part of a "complex attack" staged by the enemy, according to the
newspaper. "I did not see any cause for alarm," he said.

The Haditha case is among recent cases of alleged atrocities against Iraqi
civilians. Five soldiers and a former solider have been charged with raping
and killing a 14-year-old Iraqi girl and killing her relatives in
Mahmoudiya. Seven Marines and one Navy corpsman have been charged with
premeditated murder in connection with the killing of an Iraqi man in
Hamdania on April 26.
August 20th, 2006  
I see there a still no charges: there is something really fishy about the allegations made against the US Marines in Haditha (as many of us have said before). It really is time that the prosecutors "put up or shut up": charge the people or exonerate them.
August 20th, 2006  
Team Infidel
Well the media has already charged, tried, and convicted these guys. It's going to be interesting to see how this pans out.

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