U.S. Marines accused over Haditha killings

8 U.S. Marines have been charged in connection with last year's killing of unarmed civilians in the Iraqi town of Haditha. The charges vary from murder to failure to investigate or report the deaths.

Now that marines have been charged they are entitled to an Article 32 hearing, which is a martial court hearing similar to a grand jury proceeding. The military judge will decide if there is enough evidence to proceed to a court martial – or a trial in civilian law terms.

The high-profile case emerged almost a year ago, when U.S. Congressman John Murtha accused U.S. Marines from the 3rd Battalion of killing “in cold blood” Iraqi civilians, including women and children.

Military criminal investigators launched two inquiries into the Haditha case, one focusing on the murder probe and one focusing on the Marine Commanders handling of the incident. The investigation into the military response found that Marine officers failed to properly respond and scrutinise the reports of the killings. As a result, three senior Marine officers were relieved of command.