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My Lai Massacre: Lt William Calley Apologises More than 40 Years after Vietnam
More than 40 years after a massacre that appalled the world, the former US army officer convicted of organising mass killings in My Lai during the Vietnam war has made a public apology.
Former lieutenant William Calley said: "There is not a day that goes by that I do not feel remorse for what happened that day in My Lai.
"I feel remorse for the Vietnamese who were killed, for their families, for the American soldiers involved and their families. I am very sorry."
Mr Calley was addressing members of the Kiwanuis Club in Greater Columbus, Georgia, in remarks delivered on Wednesday but which have only now emerged.
The killings that occurred on March 16, 1968 in the South Vietnamese hamlet of My Lai prompted widespread outrage around the world. They are also credited with advancing the end of the Vietnam War because they significantly undercut US public support for the war effort.
The massacre began when men of Charlie Company, under the command of Calley, opened fire on civilians during a "search and destroy" mission in My Lai and neighboring villages.
The targets of the killings were mainly old men, women and children - all unarmed - as most younger members of the community were working in the fields.
The exact toll of the massacre still remain in dispute. But US estimates suggest that between 347 and 504 unarmed citizens were massacred that day.
Although a commission of inquiry recommended charges should be brought against 28 officers and two non-commissioned officers, Calley was the only US soldier convicted over the killings at My Lai. He was sentenced to life in prison, later reduced to house arrest.
A survivor of the killings said he welcomed Calley's public apology for his role the atrocity.
"It's a question of the past and we accept his apologies, although they come too late," Pham Thanh Cong, director of a small museum at My Lai, told AFP by telephone.
"However, I prefer that he send his apologies to me in writing or by email."
Mr Cong, who saw his mother and brothers killed in the massacrem, said: "I want him to come back... and see things here. Maybe he has now repented for his crimes and his mistakes committed more than 40 years ago."