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April 28, 2005

Pantano goes on trial

From WorldNetDaily:

The pretrial hearing of 2nd Lt. Ilario Pantano opened yesterday with testimony from two government witnesses and a continued dispute over the investigating officer chosen by the Marine Corps to recommend whether the charges of premediated murder of two Iraqis should proceed to a court-martial.

The Marine who complained about Pantano has been exposed changing his story.

"Best I recall, Sgt. Coburn told me that they came under attack while assisting another platoon," Cpl. Gillian told the Naval Criminal Investigative Service. "I think he said they were taking sniper fire from a house or a building. Sgt. Coburn said Lt. Pantano and one of the corpsman assaulted the house where the sniper fire was coming from. I think Sgt. Coburn told me he saw Lt. Pantano kick the door in and shoot two insurgents. Sgt. Coburn said the insurgents' weapons were away from them. Sgt. Coburn then told me he ... hated Lt. Pantano and said he did not think the lieutenant should be here anymore."

But in a sworn statement June 10 to the NCIS, Sgt. Coburn gave a different account that placed the shooting at the car, not in the house, which witnesses have said Lt. Pantano never entered.

Yesterday Sgt. Coburn was abruptly taken off the witness stand.

Marine Sgt. Daniel Coburn was testifying at a hearing in the case against 2nd Lt. Ilario Pantano when the investigating officer, Maj. Mark E. Winn, read him his rights and told him he was suspected of violating orders from superior officers.

Coburn left the courtroom after requesting a lawyer.

Defense lawyers had complained Coburn had given interviews about the case to ABC News, the Daily News of New York and New York magazine even after being ordered not to do so.

The story gets even juicier:

Sgt. Coburn is under orders not to talk to the press. But he has given several interviews in which he denied he held a grudge against his one-time platoon leader.

We talked to former Sgt. Judd Word, another squad leader in Lt. Pantano's platoon, which fought in al Anbar province in the violent spring of 2004.

"There were several incidents that led to his firing," said Mr. Word, now back home in Tennessee. "He didn't know how to read a map, which is kind of important over there. ... He did not have accountability for three of his guys in his squad. Three of his guys went unaccounted for for some time. Lt. Pantano had no choice but to fire him because he couldn't trust him anymore."

What is going on with these prosecutors?

Coverage: Cao's Blog

Previous coverage:
Substantive support
Ilario Pantono threatened
More on Lt. Ilario Pantano
The case of Ilario Pantano
Something more for our soldiers to fear

Posted by Danny Carlton at April 28, 2005 10:26 AM

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