The results of the investigation into the murder of civilians in the Iraqi city of El-Hadita should be published in the next few weeks according to White House spokesman Tony Snow. President Bush expressed his concern over what happened. The preliminary results of the investigation confirm that American soldiers did shoot dead more than twenty civilians, including women and children.
In all likelihood, the “El-Hadita massacre”was the result of unauthorized action taken by American marines. This is the provisional conclusion made by the American command in Iraq, reports The New York Times.
The death of 24 Iraqis provide evidence for this massacre. As the head of the investigatory commission Colonel Gregory Watts ascertained, they all have bullet wounds to their head or rib cage.
The scandal flared up after a publication in Time magazine, whose journalists reconstructed the events, basing their report on witnesses’ testimonies.
On 19th November 2005 an American convoy was blown up by a mine. One marine was killed, two more soldiers were wounded. In revenge the Americans stormed into neighbouring houses and opened fire. 24 people were killed, including women and children.
“I think that they were just blinded by hatred and lost control of the situation,” said one of the wounded soldiers, James Crossan.
The publication in Time forced the command to launch an investigation. Marines who were questioned maintained that they opened fire only after they had first been shot at. Furthermore, in one of the houses the click of a Kalashnikov bolt could apparently be heard, which served as a warning that an attack was being prepared against the soldiers.
Now criminal proceedings have been initiated against approximately ten marines. Moreover, their commanders are suspected of concealing the facts.
If the laws were broken, then those guilty will be punished, promised President George Bush in his first official comments on this matter. He said that he is “worried” by the press reports and is insisting on a thorough investigation.
Translated by James Platt