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Marine Afghan Shooting Hearing Nears End

  Military Law  -   POSTED: 2008/01/30 11:50

After a month of often conflicting testimony about a fatal shooting of Afghan civilians, three military officers must now decide whether to recommend criminal charges — but not before reviewing 5,000 pages of evidence.

The rarely used Court of Inquiry heard closing arguments Tuesday from a government lawyer and attorneys representing two officers who led the Marine special operations company involved in the shooting. Its final report, which may take several weeks to complete, could recommend the officers be charged.

"It's too bad the way these Marines have been vilified," civilian lawyer Knox Nunnally, who represented one of the officers, said after the court closed. "These Marines did exactly as they were trained."

An Army report determined as many as 19 Afghan civilians were killed when Marines opened fire after a car bombing targeted their convoy March 4, though a definite number of those killed and wounded varies among several reports. Nunnally said he believes three to five people died and less than 19 were injured.

Marines testified that the bombing initiated a well-planned ambush on their six-vehicle convoy, which was later targeted by small arms fire at different locations. But an Afghan human rights organization said the Marines fired indiscriminately at pedestrians and motorists.

The panel, comprising two Marine Corps colonels and a lieutenant colonel, is investigating the company's commander, Maj. Fred C. Galvin, 38, of the Kansas City area, and a platoon leader, Capt. Vincent J. Noble, 29, of Philadelphia.


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