Did Marines Commit Crime in Iraq Civilian Deaths?

ByABC News
March 19, 2006, 5:56 PM

WASHINGTON, March 19, 2006 — -- A bloody videotape shot by a local Iraqi journalism student has prompted the Pentagon to launch a criminal investigation into an incident that left at least 15 Iraqi civilians dead in the city of Haditha.

The details of what happened four months ago in Haditha are just now coming to light with the release of the videotape by an Iraqi organization called Hammurabi Human Rights.

The tape shows the bloodied and bullet-marked homes that had been allegedly stormed by the Marines, and includes comments by local residents.

"This is my father," a boy says on the tape. "He didn't do anything wrong. Why did they kill him?"

The video shows the bodies of some of the dead, including one of three children killed.

"These are children," one man on the tape says. "Are you telling me these are terrorists?"

It all started when a roadside bomb hit a convoy of 12 Marines in Haditha, killing 20-year-old Lance Cpl. Miguel Terrazas.

The official press release said simply: "A U.S. Marine and 15 Iraqi civilians were killed yesterday from the blast of a roadside bomb."

Military officials now acknowledge the Iraqis were not killed by the bomb -- but, they now say, by crossfire as U.S. Marines stormed the surrounding homes.

The military did not launch an investigation until two months after the incident, when Time magazine showed officials the video and eyewitness testimony.