Iraqis reacted with outrage Wednesday to news of a plea deal for a U.S. Marine squad leader charged in connection with the deaths of 24 people, in which he received a rank reduction and pay cut but avoided jail time.
The November 2005 killings in Haditha, Iraq, constituted one of the worst attacks on civilians by U.S. troops during the Iraq war. The deaths enraged Iraqis, put a spotlight on the conduct of the U.S. military and was compared to Vietnam’s My Lai massacre by one congressman.
On Tuesday, Staff Sgt. Frank G. Wuterich was sentenced to a maximum of 90 days in prison, but avoided any time in the brig because of a plea deal. The military judge was obligated to abide by the arrangement between prosecutors and defense attorneys, which amounts to a reduction in rank — to private — and a pay cut.
“This court is unjust and its decision was unfair for Iraqi people,” Shaeed Fakhri, a lecturer at Babel University in Hilla, said Wednesday as he visited Baghdad. “This soldier should be executed. The verdict is unfair and unjust for the innocent people who were killed in this incident.”
“This is very sad and very painful,” said Hashim Khader, a store owner in Baghdad. “They were just civilian people who did not raise weapons against the occupiers and they were killed this way. This is a heinous crime and the soldiers should get the most severe punishment.”
Wuterich, 31, of Meriden, Connecti… >>>