Haditha charges against Marine dropped

March 28, 2008 at 2:26 PM

CAMP PENDLETON, Calif., March 28 (UPI) -- The U.S. Marine Corps Friday dropped all charges against an enlisted man alleged to have been involved in the 2005 deaths of civilians in Haditha, Iraq.

The Corps said Lance Cpl. Stephen Tatum had been facing court-martial on charges of manslaughter, aggravated assault and reckless endangerment stemming from the Nov. 19, 2005, incident that left 24 civilians dead.

A written statement issued at Camp Pendleton, Calif., said only that the charges against Tatum had been dropped "in order to continue to pursue the truth seeking process into the Haditha incident."

The Haditha "incident" occurred when an improvised explosive device detonated as Tatum's unit was patrolling the city. The Marines launched an immediate and counterattack against two homes; however the occupants turned out to be civilians rather than armed insurgents.

Eight Marines were charged in connection with the assault. The charges against five have since been dropped.

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