Two US Marine officers in a unit accused of firing indiscriminately at vehicles and pedestrians and killing as many as 19 Afghan civilians in 2007 will not face criminal charges, the military said.
Lieutenant General Samuel Helland, the commander of US Marine Corps Forces, Central Command, decided no to bring charges after reviewing the findings of a special tribunal that heard more than three weeks of testimony in January at Camp Lejeune.
The tribunal investigated allegations that as many as 19 Afghan civilians died when a unit of Lejeune-based Marine special operations troops opened fire after a car bomb targeted their convoy on March 4, 2007 in Nangahar Province.
The Marines said Lt Gen Helland determined the Marines in the convoy “acted appropriately and in accordance with the rules of engagement and tactics, techniques and procedures in place at the time in response to a complex attack”.
Marine spokesman Lieutenant Colonel Sean Gibson said the finding of the Court of Inquiry – some 12,000 pages – will not be released to the public.
It was the first time in more than 50 years the Marines commissioned a Court of Inquiry. The panel, comprised of two Marine Corps colonels and a lieutenant colonel, only considered the actions of the company’s commander, 38-year-old Major Fred C. Galvin, and a platoon leader, Captain Vincent J. Noble, 29.