Friday, May 27, 2005

Murder charges dropped against marine

Charges have been dropped against a Marine Lieutenant, 2nd Lt. Ilario Pantano, who was charged with murder for shooting two Iraqis last year. CNN story here. The incident occurred when a Marine unit stopped and searched a car driven by the deceased. The defense maintained that the shootings were in self-defense. The investigating officer (the equivalent of a grand jury) had recommended the charges be dropped but some non-judicial punishment be levied for poor judgement - firing excessive rounds and leaving a sign with the slogan, "No better friend, no worse enemy" in the car. The Division commander elected to impose no punishment.

I've been following this story for several months now particularly because the exonerated Marine is a childhood friend. I'm very pleased to see how it has turned out.

I strongly feel that all of our servicemen should be given strong benefit of the doubt. Certainly not a license to commit acts of mayhem. But we need to understand that decisions made in potential life and death situations must be judged in the light of the situation. On the other hand, the fact that we are willing to investigate claims such as these to make sure that soldiers and marines are not abusing their power speaks well of us as a country. In this case due process has been served and I believe justice as well.

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