In a key ruling, a military appeals court has upheld the dismissal of dereliction of duty charges filed by the Marine Corps against the highest-ranking officer accused of wrongdoing in connection with the 2005 shooting deaths of two dozen civilians in Haditha, Iraq.
The unanimous decision by the United States Navy-Marine Corps Court of Criminal Appeals in Washington upholds a finding that unlawful command influence improperly tainted the government's case against Lt. Col. Jeffrey Chessani.(snip)
Four Camp Pendleton officers and four enlisted men were charged with crimes at Haditha. All but Chessani and Staff Sgt. Frank Wuterich, who led his squad in the assault that led to the civilian deaths following a roadside bombing, have since been exonerated.
Wuterich's attorneys have said they plan to seek a dismissal of the nine counts of manslaughter and related charges against their client on the same unlawful command influence found in the Chessani prosecution.