Marine 2nd Lt. Ilario Pantano is a Gulf War veteran-turned-Wall Street broker who cut his long locks and reenlisted in the Marines after several close friends died in the Sept. 11 World Trade Center attacks. Marine prosecutors have a different view of the officer’s professional conduct, says the Christian Science Monitor. A year after he shot two terror suspects in the back during a tense search mission in Iraq Pantano is facing a military version of a grand jury at Camp Lejeune, N.C., on charges of premeditated murder.
It is the first post-9/11 case of alleged murder in combat to come before the military justice system. “Just being on a battlefield isn’t a complete license to do anything,” says Michael Belknap, a professor at California Western School of Law and author of “The Vietnam War on Trial.” Rep. Walter Jones (R-N.C.) disagrees: “I do not believe that Lieutenant Pantano should be charged with premeditated murder for doing his job. This sends a horrible message to young men and women in uniform.”