Photo Information

Baghdad, Iraq -- A Marine stands to be sworn in just before the hearing before an Iraqi judge in the Central Criminal Court of Iraq. The Iraqi courts have adopted many of the American traditions, which usually take place in an American court system. Photo Courtesy of Capt. Carlos Davila

Photo by Courtesy of Capt. Carlos Davila

3/8 Marines testify against detainees

10 Aug 2005 | Cpl. Athanasios L. Genos

Corporal Matthew B. Cree and fellow Marines with 3rd Battalion, 8th Marine Regiment, went to the Central Criminal Court of Iraq to testify against detainees they apprehended earlier in their deployment. Coalition forces throughout Iraq, to include Marines in the battalion, have apprehended suspected insurgents and processed them through the Iraqi legal system from unit temporary holding areas all the way up to the CCCI in Baghdad. “The Marines are going to the hearing where they will be witnesses in the cases against those they have detained,” explained Capt. Carlos M. Davila, Judge Advocate for the battalion. Cree and many of the Marines patrolled through many local towns, villages, and cities throughout the deployment. They detained people for possession of illegal weapons, ammunition, mortar systems and anti-coalition propaganda. Marines like the New Kent, Va., native have apprehended and processed over 500 detainees. “We usually sweep through berms to find weapons caches,” explained the 2002 New Kent High School graduate. “You think to you yourself, where would I hide these things.” Cree’s unit has put away insurgents on a regular basis with the help of the local population. Lately, Iraqi citizens have taken more initiative to turn in insurgents and help the Marines in their process of finding and detaining these individuals. This effort has helped bring more detainees to justice while making the streets safer for citizens and coalition forces alike. “Depending on the nature of what you find, you will detain them,” Cree explained. “At the minimum, you at least take photos of what is there.” The detainees who are moved to Abu Ghurayb are held until it is time for their day in court. “Each detainee’s case is looked over by many lawyers before they actually get to their hearing,” said Davila, a 1997 University of Wisconsin Law School graduate. The final phase for the Marines is the trip to CCCI where they meet with a judge and the evidence is laid out at an investigative hearing. Questions are asked of the Marines as the judge sorts through all that is presented to him. “It (the hearing) will be more like a deposition for the Marines who are witnessing in the case,” Davila explained. Keeping up on the little details is required when processing the detainees through the system. It is what the judges look for when going over the evidence and ask questions concerning the circumstances that lead to the detention. “Everything we do here is important for the entire case we present,” explained Sgt. Christopher F. Smith, a Mastic, N.Y., native. “If we mess up on the evidence or anything else we do here, it could mean a bad guy goes free.” The time between when the detainee is first brought in and when he goes to court is currently separated by about four months. Careful handling and tracking of all evidence is one of the many jobs the Marines do during this process. The Marines of the battalion continue to detain individuals and keep the process going as they fight the Global War on Terrorism.