The Associated Press reports on Day 1 of Lt. Ilario Pantano's Article 32 proceeding, which will determine whether he faces a full court-martial for shooting two Iraqi insurgents.
There were no real surprises in the courtroom, although testimony from "Corporal O", an anonymous Marine witness, seemed to undercut Pantano's claim that he shot the Iraqis in self-defense:
"Corporal O," described as a cook working to be an Arabic linguist, said the men were scared and claimed to be visiting family in the residence. After the shooting, he testified, the men "looked like they were on their knees. They were shot in the backs."It's important to bear in mind that the standard of proof in an Article 32 proceeding is a lot lower than it would be in an actual court-martial. Under the Uniform Code of Military Justice, the Marines need only show that "reasonable grounds" exist to believe Pantano committed the crimes of which he is accused not that he actually committed them.
In other words, it's quite possible that Pantano could be court-martialled after the Article 32 hearing, yet go on to be found not guilty. But things certainly aren't looking great for him right now.