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HADITHA

LCpl Justin Sharratt On December 21, 2006, eight U.S. Marines from 3rd Battalion, 1st Marines were charged in connection with the killings of 24 Iraqi men, women and children on November 19, 2005 in Haditha, a city in the western Iraq province of Al Anbar. One of the eight Marines, Marine Lance Corporal Justin Sharratt, was charged with murdering 3 Iraqi men in connection with the incident. From the outset of the case, Lance Corporal Sharratt maintained that he had killed the men in self-defense, that the group of men were armed, and that at least one the Iraqis had pointed a weapon at him and his squad leader, Staff Sergeant Frank Wuterich. The Marine Corps countered that the killings were retribution for the attack on a convoy of Marines with an improvised explosive device that had killed Lance Corporal Miguel Terrazas. Beginning in December 2006 and throughout 2007, a team of veteran defense attorneys, including civilian defense attorney James Culp, fought Marine prosecutors who were attempting to convict LCpl Sharratt of murder. During the course of a five-day Article 32 Investigation that was held at Camp Pendleton, California, Lance Corporal Sharratt’s defense team rebutted the prosecution case and presented important evidence that eventually convinced the Convening Authority, Lieutenant General James Mattis, to drop all charges against LCpl Sharratt. "Our nation is fighting a shadowy enemy who hides among the innocent people, does not comply with any aspect of the law of war, and routinely draws fire toward civilians," Mattis wrote. "With the dismissal of these charges, you may fairly conclude that you did your best to live up to the standards followed by U.S. fighting men throughout our many wars."

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