Thursday, February 10, 2005

Marine Charged with Murder

Via Reuters:

A U.S. Marine has been charged with premeditated murder and could face the death penalty for shooting two Iraqi men during a vehicle search near a weapons cache in Iraq last year, the Marine's attorney said on Thursday.

The Marine Corps released a statement saying 2nd Lt. Ilario G. Pantano was charged on Feb. 1 for his involvement in the shooting deaths of two Iraqi men on April 15, 2004, during combat operations in Iraq.


Pantano was the commander of a Marine platoon sent to search a suspected insurgent hide-out in an area south of Baghdad on April 15. The Marines found weapons, ammunition and bomb-making material in the building, and saw two men fleeing in a sport utility vehicle, Gittens said.

The Marines shot out the vehicle's tires to force it to a halt, took the two men into custody and ordered them to rip out the seats and the interior of the vehicle during a search for booby traps and secret compartments, Gittens said.

One of the men turned suddenly toward Pantano "as if to attack," and the pair kept moving when Pantano ordered them to stop, Gittens said.

"He (Pantano) thought he was in danger and he fired and he killed them and that's what we do to terrorists who don't listen to orders. ... It's a combat situation, kill or be killed," the attorney said.

Pantano feared the men may have been trying to detonate explosives remotely, Gittens said.

"What's he supposed to do, wait until he's standing in the inferno?" the attorney added.
Based on the limited (and one-sided) evidence presented in the article, the man sounds innocent. But whatever the facts of the case, it is worthy of note that the US is putting a soldier on trial for actions committed during combat. Remind me again how we are no better than the terrorists...

UPDATE: I didn't initially realize there were two pages to the article. Patano's mom has a Web Site: raises money and awareness for the defense of soldiers and Marines whose actions in the heat of combat are being second-guessed.

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