Updated 11:57 AM ET Friday: Army spokesman Alan Davis said the government had sought the new charge of reckless endangerment against Carden "as a result of additional evidence revealed during recent interviews with witnesses." The investigating officer included that charge in his recommendations on the courts-martial. Elizabeth OuYang, New York branch president of OCA, a national civil rights organization serving Asian Pacific Americans, said in a statement: "We are relieved no charges were dropped" and added that it was "significant" the legal proceedings were continuing for the one officer in the group.
An investigating officer is recommending that all charges against two more soldiers accused in connection with the death of a Chinese-American GI in Afghanistan be forwarded to courts-martial, the Army said Wednesday.
Sgt. Travis Carden, 25, of Fowler, Ind., is charged with maltreatment, assault, reckless endangerment and other violations. Lt. Daniel Schwartz, 25, of Maryland, is charged with eight specifications of dereliction of duty.
They are part of a group of eight soldiers charged in connection with the death of Pvt. Danny Chen, 19, who is believed to have committed suicide in Afghanistan after allegedly being abused by fellow troops. He died of an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound on Oct. 3.
The brigade commander will now consider the investigating officer's recommendations in determining whether to forward the charges to the Combined Joint Task Force-82 Commander for final disposition, Sgt. 1st Class Alan G. Davis, an Army spokesman, said in a statement.
Both soldiers' Article 32 hearings, which determine whether there is enough evidence for a court-martial, ended Sunday.
Chen was found dead with his rifle next to him in a guard tower at Combat Outpost Palace in the Panjwa'i district of Kandahar province in southern Afghanistan.
According to investigators from the Regional Command-South, almost immediately after he arrived in mid-August, Chen, the only Chinese-American in his platoon, was required to do exercises that within a few days crossed over to alleged abuse, said Elizabeth OuYang, New York branch president of OCA, a national civil rights organization serving Asian Pacific Americans.
Investigators found evidence that the platoon sergeant and the platoon leader were aware of an attack on Chen on Sept. 27 and chose not to report it, OuYang said.
Five of the soldiers were charged with involuntary manslaughter and negligent homicide. It's thought to be the first time such charges have been brought in this type of case, according to experts on hazing and on the military legal system.
The first soldier to face an Article 32 hearing, Spc. Ryan Offutt, a 32-year-old infantryman from Greenville, Pa., may not face the toughest charge of involuntary manslaughter in further legal proceedings since the investigating officer did not recommend it be forward to court-martial. He still faces a negligent homicide charge.
The maximum punishment for involuntary manslaughter is 10 years in prison and a dishonorable discharge, while negligent homicide is a dishonorable discharge and three years in prison.
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