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U.S. Marine Pleads Guilty In Case Of Iraqi Civilian Deaths

Staff Sergeant Frank Wuterich walks into court during opening statements in the Haditha murders trial at Camp Pendleton in California on January 9.
A U.S Marine squad leader has pleaded guilty to dereliction of duty in connection with a 2005 incident in Iraq that resulted in the deaths of 24 Iraqis.

Staff Sergeant Frank Wuterich's guilty plea is part of a plea deal that ends the largest criminal case against U.S. troops in the Iraq war.

Wuterich faces up to three months in confinement, a forfeiture of pay, and a demotion to private when he is sentenced.

Sentencing is expected on January 24.

Wuterich was one of eight Marines originally charged in connection with the incident.

Prosecutors said he lost control after a friend was killed by a roadside bomb and led his squad into two homes in the town of Haditha.

Women, children, and elderly people were among the killed.

Wuterich claimed he was acting within the rules of military engagement.

compiled from agency reports