May 27, 2005 – The US Marine Corps has dismissed all charges against an officer who admittedly shot two unarmed Iraqi detainees some 60 times before hanging a sign over their mutilated bodies that read "No better friend, no worse enemy." Second Lieutenant Ilario G. Pantano maintains that he shot the men in self-defense after they made menacing moves toward him.
Major General Richard Huck, who commands Pantanoâ€™s division, dropped the charges based largely on a report by an investigative officer who said Pantano was within his rights if he so much as "felt" threatened, even if the threat was not real. The investigator, Lieutenant Colonel Mark E. Winn, did suggest Pantano be punished for desecrating the menâ€™s bodies, but Huck rejected even that possibility.
Winnâ€™s report further argued that prosecutors were unable to prove that the victims "were not shot in the front." It also labeled "extremely suspect" the prosecutionâ€™s chief witness, a sergeant who said Pantano shot the Iraqis in the back.