US officer is dropped murder charges

The &to=http:// ' target=_blank>Marine Corps dropped murder charges Thursday against an officer accused of riddling two Iraqis with bullets and hanging a warning sign on their corpses as a grisly example to other suspected insurgents.

Autopsies conducted on the Iraqis' exhumed bodies backed 2nd Lt. Ilario Pantano's assertion that he shot them in self-defense after the men disobeyed his instructions and made a menacing move toward him, Marine officials said.

The decision to drop the charges was made by Maj. Gen. Richard Huck, commander of the 2nd Marine Division based at Camp Lejeune. The move ends the prosecution of Pantano, a former Wall Street trader who rejoined the Marines after the Sept. 11 attacks, tells ABC News.

Marine 2nd Lt. Ilario G. Pantano, a Wall Street energy trader who rejoined the military in response to the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, did not deny shooting the suspected insurgents 60 times or hanging the sign that displayed a corps slogan: "No better friend, no worse enemy."

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