The U.S. Marines paid at least $38,000 to the families of Iraqi civilians killed in a November clash in Haditha. The payments were made in December, according to a report in The Denver Post that was confirmed by NPR.
In another development in the case, investigators have been told that a sergeant coaxed other Marines to come up with a cover story about the incident. The squad leader allegedly sought to prove his group was not at fault for the deaths. Of particular concern to the sergeant, investigators say, was the deaths of five Iraqis in a taxi. They were unarmed and killed by Marines shortly after the roadside bomb went off, investigators have found.
It is standard procedure for the military to make payments when it is at fault. The payments, which included $2,500 for each person killed, were authorized by the battalion commander, Lt. Col. Chessani, and his superiors. But it's uncertain how far up the chain of command the approval had to go.