Tags: Chessani | sue | Murtha

We'll Sue Murtha, Chessani Lawyer Vows

Tuesday, 28 Aug 2007 05:22 PM

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If Marine Col. Jeffrey Chessani is exonerated of the charges against him he may haul Pennsylvania Democratic Congressman John Murtha, into court, suing him for libel, one of his lawyers told NewsMax.com.

Brian Rooney, one of the attorneys at Michigan's Thomas More Law Center representing Lt. Col. Jeffrey Chessani and a former Marine captain himself told NewsMax.com that his client, who is alleged to have failed to fully investigate the killing of 24 Iraqis in Haditha November, 2005 and not reporting an alleged Law of War violation, may follow the example of another Haditha Marine, SSgt. Frank Wuterich who is suing Murtha for libel.

Murtha set off a media firestorm last year when even before the matter had been fully investigated he charged members of Kilo Company, 3rd Bn, 1st Marine Regiment had gone on a rampage and slaughtered 24 Iraqi civilians in cold blood to avenge the killing of a member of their unit in an IED explosion. He also said that the incident occurred in the absence of any firefight, although it occurred as part of a day-long battle with insurgent ambushers that wounded 11 Marines.

Rooney told NewsMax.Com that his group that, if as they expect, Chessani is cleared just as one officer, Capt. Randy Stone and two enlisted men have either been exonerated of had a hearing officer recommend exoneration they will seek to hold Murtha accountable.

According to Brian Rooney , SSgt. Frank Wuterich -- one of the other defendants in the investigation now awaiting a hearing on murder charges -- is already suing Murtha for those libelous comments. He insists that Murtha should be held accountable for taking the word of Iraqi insurgents and calling the Marines "cold-blooded murderers."

"Staff Sergeant Wuterich's attorneys are suing Congressman Murtha for liable for saying that the Marines were cold-blooded murderers, and that suit's still ongoing," Rooney said.

"We're not suing Murtha right now," Rooney added. "I know that Frank Wuterich's attorney are suing him for libel, and we will explore that option once our criminal case has been concluded. We hope to show that Murtha is guilty of libel against our client because when he accused the unit's officers of covering up the incident he could only have been referring to Lt. Col. Chessani.

Rooney recalled that in June 2006, Murtha told ABC's Charles Gibson, "I know there was a cover-up someplace. They knew about this a few days afterwards, and there's no question the chain of command tried to stifle the story."

"We think Congressman Murtha abandoned his legislative role in attacking the Marines, and so we are going to explore that. We're going to take it one step at a time, but that's definitely something we're going to do once our client is exonerated."

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