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Indybay FeatureRelated Categories: Iraq | International | U.S. | Anti-War
Charges dropped against third Marine in Haditha massacre case
Monday, March 31, 2008 :The Marine Corps on Friday dismissed all charges against Lance Cpl. Stephen B. Tatum in connection with the massacre of civilians in Haditha, Iraq. This is the third exoneration of an enlisted Marine linked to the November 2005 killings. Charges against two other enlisted Marines were previously dropped.
The only charges remaining are against Staff Sgt. Frank D. Wuterich, who faces court martial on nine counts of voluntary manslaughter later this year.
Tatum had been charged with involuntary manslaughter in the deaths of two unarmed children in Haditha. He was also facing charges of reckless endangerment and aggravated assault. If convicted, he could have faced 18 years in prison.
The charges against him were dismissed only hours before he was to go to trial. In exchange for the dropping of charges he has agreed to testify at Wuterich’s trial, although his lawyers say there has been no agreement with prosecutors on what he will say.
The dismissal of charges against Tatum is but the latest in a string of decisions in the Haditha case which has served to exonerate the military at all levels and justify its actions in the November 19, 2005 atrocity.
No soldier involved in the killings of two dozen unarmed Iraqi men, women and children will face murder charges. None of the commanding officers will face criminal charges in connection with the massacre.
Lt. Col. Paul Ware, the military investigator overseeing Lance Cpl. Tatum’s pre-trial hearing, recommended last August that all charges against him be dropped. He argued that Tatum shot at the children because Staff Sgt. Wuterich had started firing. Ware wrote at the time that Tatum had killed the civilians, but “the reason he did so was because of his training and the circumstances he was placed in, not to exact revenge and commit murder.”Read More