The US Marine Corps announced it will not bring criminal charges against two officers in command of a unit involved in the shooting deaths of up to 19 civilians near Jalalabad, Afghanistan, last year after a car bomb struck the marines’ convoy. (NYT, May 24) The announcement comes as protests are breaking out in Afghanistan following reports that a US sniper used a Koran for target practice. Hundreds demonstrated May 26 in Balkh and Logar provinces, tearing apart an effigy of President Bush and chanting anti-US slogans. A Lithuanian soldier and two Afghan civilians were killed in protests against the incident last. (AP, May 26)
Meanwhile, a Marine is to face court martial over allegations that an unarmed Iraqi prisoner was shot dead during fighting in Fallujah in 2004. A statement released by the US Marine Corps from their California base at Camp Pendleton said Sgt. Jermaine Nelson will be tried later this year for charges of unpremeditated murder and dereliction of duty.
Another Marine sergeant from Nelson’s unit, Ryan Weemer, was charged with murder and dereliction of duty in March. A third soldier, José Nazario, is being tried in civilian courts in California on manslaughter charges in connection with the shooting deaths of two Iraqi prisoners. (AFP, May 14)
Spain’s National Court has dropped murder charges filed against three US soldiers over the death of a Spanish cameraman in 2003. José Couso of Spain’s Telecinco TV, was killed when a US tank fired at Baghdad’s Palestine Hotel, then used by foreign journalists. Another cameraman working for Reuters was also killed in the incident. The court said that there was “insufficient evidence” to continue with the trial.
Earlier, a lower Spanish court had issued arrest warrants for Sgt. Thomas Gibson, Cpt. Philip Wolford and Lt. Col. Philip De Camp of the US army for the death of Couso. When US officials ignored the two international warrants, saying that the firing was justified, Couso’s family brought charges. (RTT, May 13)