Here’s some background information about the 2005 killings of 24 civilians in Haditha, Iraq.
Haditha is a city on the Euphrates River northwest of Baghdad, Iraq.
Eight US Marines faced charges in the deaths, but only one was convicted of a crime, that of negligent dereliction of duty.
November 19, 2005 - A roadside bomb kills 20-year-old Lance Cpl. Miguel Terrazas in the Haditha neighborhood of Al-Subhani.
November 19, 2005 - At least 24 Iraqi civilians, including women and children, are killed. Suspicion falls on Marines from Kilo Company of the 3rd Battalion, 5th Marine Regiment.
March 19, 2006 - Time.com first publishes the allegations of the killings. The story also runs in the March 27 issue of the magazine.
April 8, 2006 - The commander of the 3rd Battalion, 1st Marine Regiment and two company commanders are relieved of command and placed on staff duty during the investigation.
May 29, 2006 - Gen. Peter Pace, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, tells CNN there are two investigations - one into what happened and one into why the military didn’t know about the incident sooner.
December 21, 2006 - Eight Marines face criminal charges or administrative punishment in connection with the incident.
- Staff Sgt. Frank Wuterich, who led the detachment of Marines accused of involvement in the incident, is charged with 13 counts of unpremeditated murder, making false statements to investigators, and trying to persuade others to do the same. The murder charges include 12 counts of unpremeditated murder against individuals and one count of the murder of six people “while engaged in an act inherently dangerous to others.”
- Lance Cpl. Justin Sharratt is charged with one count of unpremeditated murder, with three specifications (one for each fatality).
- Lance Cpl. Stephen Tatum is charged with negligent homicide and assault.
- Sgt. Sanick Dela Cruz is charged with unpremeditated murder and making a false statement.
- Lt. Col. Jeffrey Chessani is charged with one count of violating a lawful order and two counts of dereliction of duty.
- Capt. Randy Stone is charged with dereliction of duty and violating a lawful order.
- Capt. Lucas McConnell is charged with dereliction of duty.
- First Lt. Andrew Grayson is charged with obstruction of justice, dereliction of duty and making a false statement.
January 6, 2007 - The Washington Post publishes photos and information pertaining to the Haditha incident. The photos show five dead Iraqi men near a taxi cab. Shortly after, attorneys for the charged Marines request a probe to determine who leaked the photos, claiming their clients will not be given a fair trial because of them. US criminal investigators say they have found no evidence to support the claim of the Marines that the five Iraqis were shot after trying to flee the scene. The investigators say that all five Iraqi men were shot no more than 18 feet from the taxi they were ordered to exit and within arm’s length of each other.
April 2, 2007 - Charges against Dela Cruz are dropped in exchange for his testimony.
August 9, 2007 - Charges against Sharratt and Stone are dropped after Lt. Gen. James Mattis rules that they did not act inappropriately under the circumstances.
August 23, 2007 - Lt. Col. Paul Ware, the investigating officer, recommends that all charges be dropped against Tatum, saying the evidence is too weak for a court-martial.
September 5, 2007 - Maj. Gen. Richard A. Huck, former commanding general of the 2nd Marine Division; Col. Stephen W. Davis, former commanding officer of Regimental Combat Team 2, 2nd Marine Division; and Col. Robert G. Sokoloski, former chief of staff of 2nd Marine Division (Forward) receive letters of censure from the secretary of the Navy in connection to the Haditha investigation.
September 18, 2007 - Mattis drops charges against McConnell.
October 4, 2007 - Ware, the investigating officer, recommends that the murder charges be dropped from Wuterich’s case, but that he should be tried for the lesser offense of negligent homicide.
October 19, 2007 - The Marine Corps announces that Chessani and Tatum will face courts-martial.
December 31, 2007 - Grayson is referred for court-martial on charges of making false official statements, obstruction of justice and attempting to fraudulently separate from the Marine Corps.
December 31, 2007 - The Marine Corps announces that Wuterich will face a court-martial on charges of voluntary manslaughter, aggravated assault, reckless endangerment, dereliction of duty and obstruction of justice.
March 28, 2008 - The US military announces that all charges are dropped against Tatum.
May 7, 2008 - “Battle for Haditha,” a film dramatizing the events of November 19, 2005, opens.
June 4, 2008 - Grayson is found not guilty on all charges.
June 17, 2008 - All charges against Chessani are dropped after a judge rules that a general overseeing the case could have been improperly influenced by a prosecutor.
January 12, 2012 - After years of delay, the court-martial of Wuterich, the last of eight Marines charged, begins with jury selection. He is charged with nine counts of voluntary manslaughter and other offenses.
January 23, 2012 - Wuterich pleads guilty to one count of negligent dereliction of duty.
January 24, 2012 - Wuterich is sentenced to 90 days in prison and a reduction in pay and rank, from staff sergeant to private.
May 30, 2013 - A Defense Department panel appointed by Defense Secretary Leon Panetta and Pentagon general counsel Jeh Johnson issues its report on investigations and prosecutions of US troops implicated in the abuse or murder of civilians in war zones. The panel recommends that in the future, criminal proceedings should be handled by the senior commander in the theater of combat and not the accused soldier’s military branch. The panel was established after the investigation of the Haditha massacre led to no serious consequences for the accused soldiers.