Thursday, May 26, 2005

It's Official - Pantano is free!

Well, people, I guess that's it. For those of you who were following the LT Ilario Pantano trial as closely as I was, you'll be glad to know that the court of MG Huck, commander of the 2nd Marine Division based at Camp Lejeune, has agreed to follow LTC Winn's recommendation to drop ALL charges against Pantano, and has also dropped ALL specifications.

Winn wrote in his recommendation that Pantano should face nonjudicial punishment for allegedly desecrating the bodies by reloading his weapon and repeatedly shooting them. Pantano said he shot the men until they stopped moving.

Huck could have accepted Winn's recommendation, given some form of administrative punishment or gone ahead with a court-martial. He decided that Pantano should face no punishment for any of his actions.

"The best interests of 2nd Lt. Pantano and the government have been served by this process," the Marine Corps said in a statement.

Supporters of Pantano said troops should not be second-guessed for decisions made in fleeting seconds of combat.

So, if the best interests of the Marines have finally been served, I guess that begs the question of why they went through all this in the first plac? Charles Gittens, Pantano's attorney, said: "Down at the unit level, there was never a question about Ilario's conduct and whether or not he did the right thing. It was up in the higher echelons. The people removed from combat situations needed to put more trust in their officers rather than assuming they're guilty."

So, it's over, but Kit at Euphoric Reality has EXCLUSIVE interviews with both Gittens and Pantano. I'll post everything as soon as I get it from her. Stay tuned...