After having his Article 32 investigation reopened, two additional charges for dereliction of duty have been add against Lieutenant Colonel Jeffrey Chessani. LtCol Chessani was the battalion commander of the Marines involved in the killing of 24 Iraqi civilians in Hadita, Iraq.
The Investigating Officer, Col Conlin, in LtCol Chessani’s case had originally recommended three charges for violations of Article 92 of the UCMJ, for dereliction of duty and violation of a lawful order.
These additional charges are only recommendations at this point, the decision to send these charges to a court-martial rests with the Convening Authority, Lieutenant General J. N. Mattis, USMC.
According to his attorney, former Marine Judge Advocate Brian Rooney of the Thomas More Law Center, LtCol Chessani plans to sue Congressman John Murtha. See HotAir.
For more information: Haditha Investigations
On 28AUG07, a court-martial found Lieutenant Colonel Steven Jordan, USA, not guilty of charges that he was responsible for the abuse of prisoners at Abu Ghraib jail. LTCOL Jordan was found guilty of disobeying an order, UCMJ Article 92, not to talk about the investigation. This order was given by his commanding general.
LTCOL Jordan was acquitted of cruelty and maltreatment (subjecting detainees to forced nudity and intimidation by dogs); dereliction of duty by failing to properly train subordinates; and failure to obey a lawful general order by allowing the use of dogs during interrogations without the approval of higher authorities.Colonel Thomas Pappas, LTCOL Jordan’s superior officer, received areprimand and a fine of several thousand dollars for approving the useof dogs during interrogations.
LTCOL Jordan faces a maximum of 5 years confinement, total forfeitures, dismissal, and a dishonorable discharge. Sentencing should begin tomorrow.
The Article 32 investigation for Sgt Frank Wuterich, USMC, is set to begin on 30AUG07 aboard Camp Pendleton. LtCol Ware will be the investigating officer. LtCol Ware was the investigating officer for LCpl Stephen B. Tatum and and LCpl Justin L. Sharratt, in both cases he recommended no charges.
Sgt Wuterich’s lawyer, Neal Puckett, a retired Marine Corps lawyer, said Sgt Wuterich “has nothing to hide. We have faith that the military justice system will support split-second decisions made during combat.”Given that the momentum has turned against the government it is likely that LtCol Ware will not recommend charges in this case.
Additionally, in his previous report LtCol Ware cited a number of evidentiary problems with the government’s case that will exist in Sgt Wuterich’s case also. These include inaccurate translations of witness statements, inability of the government produce Iraqi witnesses who would be required at a court-martial, inability to conduct an autopsy on the bodies, and unlawful command influence relating to the statements by the Honorable John Murtha.
LtCol P.J. Ware, USMC, filed the report of his investigation into charges against LCpl Stephen B. Tatum, wherein he recommended no criminal charges. LtCol Ware characterized the shootings as tragedies, but LCpl Tatum did not violate the law.
LtCol Ware previously recommended no charges be brought against LCpl Justin L. Sharratt. LtGen Mattis accepted the recommendations and dropped the charges against LCpl Sharratt. The decision to send LCpl Tatum to a court-martial now rests with LtGen Mattis. It will likely be two weeks before he hands down his decision.
The first hearing of the U.S. Court of Military Commission Review is scheduled to hold its first hearing on 24AUG07. The hearing will hear argument regarding the dismissal of charges against Omar Ahmed Khadr because of a flaw in the Combatant Status Review Tribunals for Guantanamo Bay prisoners. See United States v. Khadr.
Sgt Jerrod M. Glass, USMC, a Drill Instructors at Marine Corps Recruit Depot San Diego, was charged with 244 counts of abusing recruits. The accusations against Sgt Glass include striking almost every member of his platoon, a total of 60 recruits. The four officers who oversaw Sgt Glass have been relieved of their duties.
Capt Patrick J. Callahan, USMC, the defense lawyer for Sgt Glass, requested all charges against he client be read aloud in court. Customarily, the reading of the charges in a court-martial is waived, as the accused has had adequate time to read the charges. The Military Judge was LtCol Jeffery Meeks, who was surprised by the number of officers already punished for the incidents.
The allegations against Sgt Glass include having a recruit jump into a trash can and sticking recruits with a tent pole and flashlight. The prosecutor indicated that he may call every member of the platoon to testify at the court-martial. Given the deployment tempo of the Marine Corps, this may require some of the Marine to return from Iraq. The preliminary date for Sgt Glass’s court-martial is early November 2007.
The Staff Judge Advocate, SJA, – the senior legal adviser, roughly equivalent to in-house counsel for a business – for LtGen Mattis removed himself form the case of LCpl Tatum. The SJA, LtCol Bill Riggs, contacted LtCol Ware and criticized him for holding the government to too high of a standard when evaluating the charges against LCpl Tatum. LtCol Ware replied, via e-mail, “I viewed Lt. Col. Riggs’ comments as inappropriate and imprudent. … I was … offended and surprised by this conversation.”
LtCol Ware was the investigating officer for LCpl Sharratt. LtCol Ware unrecommended no charges against the Marines, and LtGen Mattis concurred with this recommendation and dismissed all charges against both LCpl Sharratt and Capt Stone. LtCol Ware will also be the Investigating Officer for SSgt Frank Wuterich.
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