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December 31st, 2006 - Iraq Charges Sadden Marine

News article by the Associated Press

Summary of the Haditha Massacre

Iraq Charges Sadden Marine

Ohioan accused of impeding civilian-deaths probe sees case hurting troops


Associated Press

December 31, 2006


Dayton - A Marine accused of failures in investigating and reporting details related to the killings of 24 Iraqi civilians last year said he believes the charges against him will detract from the Marines' work in the country.


“I'm sad, taken aback and definitely surprised by the allegations,'' Marine 1st Lt. Andrew Grayson told the Dayton Daily News for an article published Saturday. “I know that this is going to take away from all the wonderful things that the Marines on the ground have done there.''


Grayson, a native of Springboro, near Dayton, was in his third tour of duty when he was ordered Dec. 19 to return to his home base. He was formally charged in the United States a few days later with willfully failing to ensure that a thorough investigation was conducted into a possible war crime, making a false official statement and impeding an investigation.


Four other Marines were charged with unpremeditated murder in the bloody sweep of the town of Haditha on Nov. 19, 2005, that came after one of their comrades was killed by a roadside bomb. Grayson, 25, and three other officers who were not present during the killings were accused of failures in investigating and reporting the deaths in the biggest U.S. criminal case involving civilian deaths to come out of the Iraq war.


Grayson, who oversaw a team of Marines who worked to find insurgents in Iraqi communities, said he was ordered to investigate the attack that killed one Marine and injured two others.


“While I was not physically present on that day, my Marines and I were responsible for determining... those who killed and injured the Marines,'' he said.


In the aftermath of the blast, five men were shot as they approached the scene in a taxi, and others - including women and children - died as Marines went house to house in the area, clearing homes with grenades and gunfire.


Grayson's lawyer, Joseph Casas, said his client is innocent. “I think that there are a lot of politics involved in this case at a much, much higher level than Andrew,'' he said.


Grayson could be sentenced to more than 10 years in prison if convicted. Casas would not allow his client to answer questions about specific facts of the case, the newspaper said.


Grayson, who is at home with his family near Hamilton, was first sent to Iraq in August 2004. He graduated in 2003 from the University of Arizona, where he was a member of the Naval Reserve Officer Training Corps and was commissioned to the Marine base in Quantico, Va.


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