A US marine accused of leading a massacre of 24 Iraqi civilians has been spared jail by a military judge.
Staff Sergeant Frank Wuterich was one of eight marines charged with the killings in the Iraqi city of Haditha in 2005.
Charges against six were dropped or dismissed and one acquitted.
The prosecution argued that Wuterich lost control after seeing a friend blown up, he then led the soldiers under his command on a killing spree.
Wuterich admitted he told his men to “shoot first, ask questions later” but told the court he never intended to harm civilians.
Women, children and the elderly were among the dead, including a man confined to a wheelchair.
The judge recommended Wuterich be demoted to private but decided against docking the marine’s pay.
In Iraq the plea deal that saved Wuterich from facing manslaughter charges sparked fury.
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