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DIDGE - The View From Down Under

An Aussie’s ridgy-didge view of world affairs and popular culture.

Wednesday, November 17, 2004

US Marine shoots unarmed man

On one hand I can empathise with the soldier. Apparently they had been doing long, long shifts, he had been shot the day before, as well as another marine, in the same unit, dying from a bomb planted on a dead insurgents corpse. It must have been horrible stuff. People have used the phrase “in the heat of battle” but from the video this shooting was certainly not in the heat of battle. And if he had been shot why was he still in combat? Even if he had not been seriously injured he probably would have been seriously emotionally wounded. I’m certainly leaning towards this being a war crime rather than something “in the heat of battle.”

In the video a marine is heard saying: “"He's f**king faking he's dead. He's faking he's f**king dead." The soldier then shoots the man in his “upper body or head and blood splatters on the wall behind him.” Another marine says: "He's dead now." While the shooting was captured on tape, US television has not screened it. Before the shooting the Iraqi was severely wounded and unarmed. Shooting wounded enemies is considered a war crime.

The soldier has been suspended and an investigation into the shooting has begun. The investigation will try to determine "whether the marine acted in self-defence, violated military law or failed to comply with the law of armed conflict". This seems ludicrous, as anyone who has seen the tape knows it is not self-defence. He was wounded, lying on the ground and unarmed.

That “He’s dead now” would make a fantastic line in a Hollywood trash blockbuster, but this is real life. Though speaking of movies, I don’t know about you, but I was reminded of the second last scene in Full Metal Jacket when I heard about this.

But the biggest surprise for me? No, it wasn’t that a US marine was involved in a controversy regarding an Iraqi death, but the fact that the video made it out of Iraq. I would have thought the US military would have tried to censor or destroy the footage.


Colleagues defend suspended marine
The close range execution-style shooting was broadcast on US networks just hours after Amnesty International accused US forces and insurgent fighters of breaking the rules of war that protect civilians and wounded combatants.

US investigates Falluja killing
The BBC's James Robbins says the incident could prove highly damaging. It must explain, he says, whether wounded combatants were abandoned, or killed, illegally. But the BBC's Baghdad correspondent Caroline Hawley says most Iraqis will not be surprised, after the scandal of US abuse of Iraqi prisoners at the Abu Ghraib facility in Baghdad.


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