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Prosecutor opposes Pantano report

NOTE: Welcome, Blackfive readers! For more on the Pantano case, older posts are here: (1), (2), (3), (4), (5), (6), (7), (8), (9)

There's a new bit of news out in the case of 2nd Lt. Ilario Pantano, the Marine accused of murdering two Iraqi insurgents.

As I noted here, the investigating officer in Lt. Pantano's Article 32 proceeding recommended that he not face a court-martial on murder charges. Now, the Associated Press reports that one of the prosecuting officers is criticizing that recommendation.

A prosecutor seeking murder charges against a Marine officer who fatally shot two Iraqis during a search for a terrorist hideout has criticized a report that recommends no court-martial in the case.

...Maj. Stephen Keane, senior trial counsel for the Marines, said Wednesday that prosecutors "showed a case where a set-up took place, and the accused at best invited self-defense, and the investigating officer did not comment on those elements."

Pantano's civilian lawyer, Charles Gittins, said Wednesday those issues were addressed in court and in the reports.
In the months leading up to Pantano's Article 32 hearing, Marine prosecutors strictly avoided commenting to the media about the merits of the case against him, stressing how important it is to be patient and let the military justice system do its job.

Back in February, when news of the case first broke, Maj. Matt Morgan spoke to WorldNetDaily, in response to public outrage that Pantano might be court-martialed:
Americans outraged at the murder charges against a Marine who claims he killed two insurgent terrorists in Iraq in self-defense should have confidence in the military justice system, insists a Marine Corps spokesman.

Maj. Matt Morgan of Camp Lejeune, N.C., told WorldNetDaily he understands why the public is rallying behind 2nd Lt. Ilario Pantano after news of his case broke Friday.

..."I just believe that it's important for Americans to have faith in the judicial process and understand that Lt. Pantano is presumed innocent and will continue to be so unless determined otherwise," Morgan said.
Fair enough. But it would be nice if Maj. Keane had the same faith.

The Marines ordered Pantano to stand and face the charges against him in an official hearing, and he did. It seems unprofessional of Maj. Keane, and unfair to Pantano, to publicly complain about the results of that hearing just because things didn't go his way.


Anonymous said...

Just as in civilian criminal proceedings, military prosecutors are ambitious. It's unfortunate to be reminded, however, that they would choose to sacrifice a Corpsman's liverty (if not their very life) in order to fulfill a career goal. These prosecutors know the pressures faced by serviceman and women, and hold themselves to higher standard than that of civilian prosecutors. Let's hope the JAGs in this case opt to hold to that higher standard and not to whatever "point" it is that they are trying to make. 

Posted by langtry

Sharon said...

PIMF! Liberty, my friends, l-i-b-e-r-t-y.

* sorry *

Anonymous said...

Good post and great hattip by BlackFive! 

Posted by Paul

Anonymous said...

I practiced in military courtrooms for five years, both on the prosecution and the defense side, and I'd add that it's rare for the government to prosecute in spite of an adverse recommendation at the Article 32. I've never seen any such case end well for the government. And knowing Gittins--I've met / corresponded with him but can't claim know him especially well--he'll be aggressive and public in his defense.

At the same time, the prosecutor has to exercise extreme caution in making public statements about his case because unlike the defense counsel, he could be perceived as representing the service's or the command's position in front of potential panel members. Beyond the essential "we seek to do what is just and present the evidence (blah blah)" it's dangerous to get specific about the evidence before the trial opens.

Posted by Joshua



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