WASHINGTON - A US Marine who was videotaped shooting to death a wounded, unarmed Iraqi inside a mosque during an attack on Fallujah last year has been cleared of any wrongdoing after investigators determined that he acted in self-defense, the Marines said Thursday.
Major General Richard Natonski, commander of the 1st Marine Division, ruled that the unidentified Marine corporal would not face court-martial because he fired his weapon in self-defense.
"He has determined that the actions of the Marine in question were consistent with the established rules of engagement, the law of armed conflict and the Marine's inherent right of self-defense," the Marine Corps said in a statement.
The November 13, 2004 shooting was caught on videotape by a television news cameramen who was embedded with the marines in Fallujah.
The corporal was heard on the video suddenly shout that the wounded Iraqi, who was lying propped up against a wall inside the mosque, was "faking he's dead." He was then seen raising his rifle and firing point blank at the Iraqi's head.
The Marine Corps said investigators reviewed the video tape, interviewed more than 22 marines who participated in the operation around the mosque, examined ballistic and forensic evidence.
"Careful consideration was also given to the impact of the enemy's known tactic of feigning death or surrender before attacking Marines," it said.