Murder charges against a US Marine accused of killing three Iraqi civilians during an alleged massacre in Haditha two years ago have been dropped, the military said on Thursday.
A statement released by the Marines at their Camp Pendleton base in southern California revealed that three charges of unpremeditated murder against Lance Corporal Justin Sharratt had been withdrawn.
The decision was announced in a written ruling from the commander Lieutenant General James Mattis and followed a recommendation from an investigator last month that the charges should be dropped.
“An independent Article 32 investigating officer has considered all the facts and determined that the evidence does not support a referral to court-martial for Lance Corporal Sharratt,” Mattis wrote.
“Based on my review of all the evidence in this case and considering the recommendation of the Article 32 officer, I have dismissed the charges.”
Sharratt was accused of shooting three Iraqi men execution-style in what prosecutors alleged was part of a rampage that left 24 civilians dead following the death of a Marine in a roadside bomb in November 2005.
Sharratt said the men were shot at close quarters as Marines cleared a house where insurgents were believed to be operating.
In a statement recommending the charges be dropped released last month, investigator Lieutenant Colonel Paul Ware said the prosecution charges were “unsupported by the independent evidence.”
“To believe the government version of facts is to disregard clear and convincing evidence to the contrary,” Ware added.
Sharratt’s website is here.
Charges were also dropped earlier against Sgt. Sanick de la Cruz.
Care to comment?
Uncle Jimbo at Blackfive: “Clear and convincing evidence to the contrary, eh? I wonder how that ties in with Murtha’s cold-blooded killers theory. I assume sweeping apologies will be forthcoming from the lummox.
I hope I meet up with Murtha when the Troops on the Hill event kicks off on the 17th and 18th–check out the site and sign up if you can be there.”
And here’s a satirical response from Murtha, “but barely.”