The investigating officers (IO) for LtCol Chessani and LCpl Sharratt have returned with their recommendations. In LtCol Chessani’s case the recommendation is to continue to a court-martial for dereliction of duty. In LCpl Sharratt’s case it is recommended that no charged be sent to court-martial.
The charges against LtCol Chessani stem from his alleged failure to investigate the deaths in Haditha. The report stated that LtCol Chessani “failed to thoroughly and accurately report and investigate a combat engagement that clearly needed scrutiny.” His Article 32 investigation was filled with some interesting events. Including the chief-of-staff invoking his 5th Amendment privilege and refusing to testify. LtCol Chessani explained that he did not feel a need to investigate, because his “men are not murderers!”
The case against LCpl Sharratt could be over if the commanding general, Gen Mattis, accepts the recommendations of the investigating officer. The investigating officer indicated that he deemed the Marines more credible than the residents of Haditha, who said the killings were executions. There were numerous problems with the evidence in this case, including NCIS losing a briefcase seized at the scene that contained AK-47 rifles and Jordanian passports.
Thus far in the Haditha matter, we have had the following Article 32 investigations:
- Capt Stone – IO recommends no charges and superiors failed to act on the same information.
- LCpl Sharratt – IO recommends no charges.
- LtCol Chessani – IO recommends charges for dereliction of duty.
It is interesting to compare the outcomes with the investigating officers. In the case of Capt Stone and LCpl Sharratt, the investigating officers, Maj Mann and LtCol Ware were both judge advocates (lawyers in the Marine Corps). In the case of LtCol Chessani, the IO was Col Conlin, an infantry officer and former battalion commander. Take this into consideration before comparing this to the Duke case.
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