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US Marines Drop Charges Against 2 in Haditha Killings

The U.S. Marines have dropped charges against a captain and a lance corporal in connection with the deaths of 24 Iraqi civilians in the town of Haditha two years ago.

In the most serious criminal case involving civilian deaths in the Iraq war, a military judge dismissed three counts of murder against Lance Corporal Justin Sharratt, saying there was insufficient evidence to prosecute. Captain Randy Stone was cleared of failing to properly investigate the alleged massacre.

Five Marines still face charges in the shooting deaths of 24 Iraqi men, women and children in Haditha in 2005.

Prosecutors say the Marines in Haditha went on a rampage of revenge killings after a roadside bomb killed a member of their unit. The Marines say they were searching for insurgents and acted according to battlefield rules of engagement.

Those who still face charges in the incident include the squad leader, Staff Sergeant Frank Wuterich, who faces 18 counts of murder.

Other Marines face charges of participating in the killings and failing to properly investigate the incident.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP and AP.