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Update – Haditha Dismissal To Be Appealed

From a crushed and disappointed Associated Press:

Marine Corps Lt. Col. Jeffrey Chessani, left, arrives with his wife Alissa Chessani, center, and his defense attorneys for his hearing at Camp Pendleton Marine Corps Base in San Diego County Tuesday, June 17, 2008.

Military judge dismisses charges in Haditha killings

By CHELSEA J. CARTER, Associated Press Writer

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

CAMP PENDLETON, CA (AP) — A military judge dismissed charges Tuesday against a Marine officer accused of failing to investigate the killings of 24 Iraqis.

Col. Steven Folsom dismissed charges against Lt. Col. Jeffrey Chessani after finding that a four-star general overseeing the case was improperly influenced by an investigator probing the November 2005 shootings by a Marine squad in Haditha.

"Unlawful command influence is the mortal enemy of military justice," Folsom said. "In order to restore the public confidence, we need to take it back. We need to turn the clock back."

Chessani was the highest-ranking officer to face a combat-related court-martial since the Vietnam War…

Of eight Marines originally charged in the case, only one is still facing prosecution in the biggest U.S. criminal prosecution involving Iraqi deaths to come out of the war…

Folsom’s ruling comes two weeks after Gen. James Mattis took the stand — a rare courtroom appearance for such a high-ranking officer — to address the judge’s initial finding that there was evidence of unlawful command influence in the case.

Col. John Ewers, the military lawyer who investigated the killings and took Chessani’s statement, later became a top legal adviser to Mattis and sat in on briefings that helped Mattis decide who would be charged

Military policy prohibits Ewers from offering legal advice because he also was an investigator in the case

Only Sgt. Frank Wuterich remains to be exonerated. And he only faces "negligent homocide" charges. (Though "only" is probably not the right word here.)

Still, too bad these brave Marines couldn’t have just been tried in the press, eh Associated Press?

Eh, John Murtha?

And speaking of "unlawful command influence" — when does Mr. Murtha’s trial begin?

 Update!

And update from an overjoyed Associated Press:

Corps to appeal ruling in Haditha killings

By Rick Rogers
UNION-TRIBUNE STAFF WRITER

June 20, 2008

CAMP PENDLETON – Marine prosecutors yesterday said they will appeal a military judge’s decision to dismiss charges against a battalion commander whose men killed two dozen Iraqi civilians in late 2005.

Lt. Col. Jeffrey Chessani, former head of the 3rd Battalion, 1st Marine Regiment, was charged with dereliction of duty for not investigating the deaths of 24 men, women and children in the Iraqi town of Haditha on Nov. 19, 2005…

On Tuesday, military judge Col. Steven Folsom dropped all charges against Chessani. He found that Gen. James Mattis had erred by allowing Col. John Ewers, a senior Marine legal officer, to attend strategy sessions for the Haditha case even though he was a potential witness against Chessani…

On Wednesday, prosecutor Lt. Col. Sean Sullivan filed a notice of his intention to appeal Folsom’s decision to the Navy-Marine Corps Court of Criminal Appeals. The filing was made public yesterday.

The prosecution team has 20 days to submit an appeal that details why it is challenging Folsom’s ruling. At that point, defense attorneys have 20 days to respond.

Brian Rooney, one of Chessani’s attorneys, expressed confidence that Folsom’s ruling would stand.

“He ruled on case law for the appeal record,” Rooney said. “The only way (the appeals court) would overturn his decision is if (Folsom) got the law wrong, and he painstakingly went through the case law.” …

One suspects the liver-spotted hands of John Murtha, Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid are behind this.

This is so preposterous as to be Orwellian.

This article was posted by Steve on Tuesday, June 17th, 2008. Comments are currently closed.

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