US sergeant 'shot five Iraqi prisoners at Haditha'

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A US marine sergeant allegedly shot five Iraqi civilians who were trying to surrender at the beginning of the Haditha killings of November 2005.

The claim was made at a pre-trial hearing at a military courtroom by one of the other marines present during the death of 24 Iraqi civilians.

Sergeant Sanick Dela Cruz has immunity from prosecution after murder charges against him were dropped, but three US marines have been charged with second-degree murder and four officers have had charges of obstructing official investigations levelled against them.

Sgt Dela Cruz said that after his squadron leader Sergeant Frank Wuterich had shot five Iraqi civilians – who had their hands bound – he told him "that if anybody asked, they were running away and the Iraqi army shot them".

But Sgt Wuterich's defence lawyers say that the marine's testimony is false.

At the hearing Camp Pendleton, California, Sgt Dela Cruz admitted to "spraying" bodies with gunfire.

"I knew they were dead, I wanted to make sure."

And the marine also said he had urinated on the body of a dead Iraqi civilian after a roadside bomb killed Lance Corporal Miguel Terrazas – an incident that prosecutors claim caused the marines to kill 24 Iraqis in a crazed rampage.

"I know it was a bad thing what I've done, but I done it because I was angry [Cpl Terrazas] was dead and I p***ed on one Iraqi's head."

The November 19th Haditha killings were originally presented as a result of a militant bomb blast and subsequent marine gunfire, but reports in the US media prompted the Pentagon to launch a full-scale investigation into the deaths.

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