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Marine feels killing ‘right thing’

By ThomaS Watkins

05/31/07 "Asian Age" - -- -Camp Pendleton (California), May 31: An officer who saw the corpses of Iraqi women and children sprawled across a bed in a home said in recorded testimony that he believed that "my Marines were doing the right thing" when they killed them.

Marine 1st Lt Max Frank, whose deposition was recorded in March 2007 before his return to Iraq, was the first witness to be heard on Wednesday at a preliminary hearing for Lt Col Jeffrey Chessani, the commander of the Marine battalion involved in the deadly sweep of the village of Haditha.

The sweep led to the deaths of 24 people on November 19, 2005, after a roadside bomb killed a lance corporal driving a Humvee. In the aftermath, Marines went house to house looking for insurgents. "From my perspective at the time, my assumption was my Marines were doing the right thing," Lt Frank said. "I rationalised it to myself as they were taking fire. The Marines could have come in, yelled at them to come out, and when they didn’t come out they cleared the room with a fragmentation grenade."

Lt Frank, a platoon commander, said he saw a total of 24 bodies, including five men who had been shot beside a white car, an elderly man whose leg had been eviscerated, and a woman and child curled up in another home.

Lt Col Chessani, 43, is charged with dereliction of duty on suspicion of failing to investigate the killings. He is the highest-ranking of seven Marines accused in the case. The Marines have said they believed they were taking fire from the houses. They used fragmentation grenades and machine guns to clear the homes, but instead of hitting insurgents, they killed civilians. (AP)

Copyrights 2006 Asian Age

 

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