Chessani board

Stars & Stripes reports:

A prosecutor has argued that a Marine Corps officer facing demotion failed to fully disclose and investigate the killing of two dozen Iraqi men, women and children by Marines under his command.

But a defense attorney called the retired officer a highly qualified leader who took the fall amid political pressure fueled by inaccurate media reports of what was a chaotic firefight with insurgents and not a war crime.

The diverse descriptions of Lt. Col. Jeffrey Chessani emerged during opening statements Wednesday to a three-member military panel that will determine if Chessani should be demoted in retirement for dereliction of duty, a move his civilian attorney says could cost Chessani and his wife a half-million dollars in benefits. The couple is expecting their seventh child.

The in-grade determination board recommendations are not yet available.