A Marine who served under one of four officers charged in the killings of two dozen Iraqi civilians in Haditha, including women and children, said in videotaped testimony played Monday that he suspected no wrongdoing by squad members accused in the deaths.
"I still do not think even a probable violation occurred," Lt. Adam Mathes said in his videotaped deposition, which was introduced at the Article 32 hearing for Lt. Col. Jeffrey Chessani.
The Article 32 hearing, the equivalent to a preliminary hearing in civilian court, is being held to determine if Chessani should be court-martialed.
"There was no cause for concern," Mathes said, adding that no officer confided in him that they suspected any wrongdoing.
Mathes maintained his position even when the prosecution showed him a digital photo of a dead woman and child in a crouching position.
Mathes said he didn't wonder how they were killed, nor did he ask anyone in his unit how the civilians may have died.
Mathes testified that when he helped move the civilians' bodies to a hospital, he saw a dead girl in a dress with some shrapnel wounds, possibly from a grenade.
The lieutenant said the accused squad members were "absolutely not" the type of Marines who would commit such a crime.
He said the allegations of wrongdoing came as a surprise to him.
Chessani was battalion commander of the squad that killed five men emerging from a car and 19 people in several homes on Nov. 19, 2005, after a roadside bomb killed one Marine and injured two other.
Chessani could face three years in the brig and dismissal from the service if convicted of two counts of dereliction of duty and one count of violating a lawful order.
The videotaped deposition of platoon leader Lt. William Kallop was also aired Monday.
Kallop said civilian deaths were usually investigated, but no one indicated an investigation was forthcoming for the Haditha killings.
Kallop, testifying under a grant of immunity, said company commander Capt. Lucas McConnell never asked him to take statements from squad members involved in the deaths.
Kallop said McConnell also didn't ask about the deaths, including the gender and age of the civilians.
"I thought I had a pretty good understanding of what was going on. I thought (the incident) was within the rules of engagement," Kallop said.
The lieutenant said he told the squad leader, Staff Sgt. Frank Wuterich, to "clear" the houses where some of the civilians died, but the witness also said the squad was trained to confirm there were insurgents inside before using lethal force.
Kallop said the sergeant told him squad members heard an AK-47 being "racked" in a room of one of the houses, prompting squad members to enter the home with grenades and other weapons.
It turned out, said Kallop, that no evidence of insurgents or weapons were found in the homes, only dead and wounded civilians, including women and children.
Chessani, McConnell, two other officers and three enlisted men -- including Wuterich -- face charges in the case.
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